Dozens of people have been killed in the latest violence between two rival communities in Kenya’s coastal region. The clashes have heightened security concerns ahead of next year’s elections.
Police said the death toll from Friday's clashes had risen to 30, with several children among those killed in what appear to have been revenge attacks by Pokomo farmers on members of the semi-nomadic Orma community.
"About 150 Pokomo raiders attacked Kipao village which is inhabited by the Ormas early on Friday," Robert Kitur, the Coast Region deputy police chief, told reporters. "The Ormas appeared to have been aware and were prepared," he added.
According to one report, nine Pokomo attackers were killed after Ormas fought back. The attackers, armed with guns, machetes and spears are also reported to have torched more than 40 homes in the pre-dawn raid in the Tana River Delta.
These are just the latest clashes between the two groups, who have been at odds for years over access to farmland and water. Back in August and September of this year more than 100 people were killed in clashes between the two groups.
Police said an extra 200 paramilitary officers had been sent to the region to prevent further fighting.
Human rights organizations have accused some politicians of sparking the latest clashes, but trying to drive away parts of the population that they believe will support their rivals in the March parliamentary and presidential elections.
This has raised fears of a repeat of the clashes that followed the 2007 elections, which left more than 1,000 people dead and forced many others from their homes.
pfd/ (dpa, Reuters)