Scores arrested as security
stepped up at Ethiopia borderAT LEAST 20 PEOPLE HAVE SO FAR BEEN KILLED IN
THE PAST THREE DAYS OF INTER-COMMUNAL CLASHES
TURNING THE MOYALE INTO A 'NO-GO' ZONESPECIAL REPORT BY XINHUA CORRESPONDENTS
CHRISPINS OMAR, STEPHEN INGATI AND CHRISTINE LAGAT
MOYALE (Xinhua) -- Dozens of people have been arrested including former lawmaker as Kenyan authorities deployed massive security to contain inter-communal fighting which erupted in Moyale near the border with Ethiopia.
Kenyan Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere said he has dispatched a special unit within the police force to the region to beef up security after clashes between the Borana and Gabra livestock- herding communities in Moyale, about 600 km northeast of Nairobi left at least five people dead."We have sent a special unit of the police to beef up security in Moyale."We have given the officers firm instructions to launch a serious operation in the area with a view to disarming members of the two communities," Iteere told journalists in Nairobi.
The police chief said former Moyale lawmaker Halake Guyo has been arrested for incitement following overnight clashes between the two major communities in Moyale.
Residents say tension remains high in the area as more families flee the resource-linked conflict between the Gabra and Borana pastoralist communities.
The locals said at least 20 people have so far been killed in the past three days of inter-communal clashes turning the Moyale into a no-go zone.
Regional police commander Marcus Ochola said the latest clashes which broke out in Helu on Tuesday, has now spread out to other parts of the district spreading fears among the residents in the region.
He said the additional security forces are currently combing the region as they recover weapons from the police reservists in order to restore calm in the volatile region."More security officers have been deployed in Butiye, Gurumesa and Helu areas where the communities have been fighting between the two major communities of Borana and Gabra," Ochola told Xinhua on Friday.
The area has been hit by sporadic clashes between the two communities since November, and the authorities said the government will continue to lead peace efforts in the region to ensure long lasting peace.
"I would not know how many people have died as a result of the clashes that started in November but what I can confirm is that there was an exchange of fire yesterday (Thursday) that left five people dead," District Commissioner Elias Kithaura said."We have been holding peace meetings between all the tribes in the area before fresh clashes started on Tuesday," he said.
Iteere said investigations into the clashes had pointed to incitement by local leaders over the sharing of resources, land, and local politics.
He said two Kenya Police reservists and an assistant chief are among those killed in the Thursday night fighting.
He said several local leaders among them politicians had gone into hiding and were being sought by police to assist with investigations into the violence which led to death of tens of people.Residents says Garba community blames the Borana for using soldiers allied to Ethiopia’s rebels, the Oromo National Liberation Front(ONLF) attack them.However, humanitarian agencies say the violence is being fuelled by competition for land for grazing and livestock.
The United Nations humanitarian agency, OCHA, has voiced concern over inter-communal clashes in northern Kenya where some 46 people have died in recent months in reprisal attacks linked to rivalry over pasture and cattle rustling.
"What we are seeing up there is cyclical inter-communal revenge attacks and violence between the communities," Matthew Conway, spokesperson for the East African bureau of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Jan. 4."What appears to be motivating the violence is competition for land for grazing and livestock," he said, adding that the violence follows the recent drought in northern Kenya during which pastoralist communities lost large numbers of their livestock due to the lack of pasture and the drying up of water sources.
The clashes between the Borana and Gabra livestock herding communities around the northern Kenyan town of Moyale, which is situated on the border with Ethiopia, have reportedly also displaced thousands of people.
The incident comes as government comes under increasing pressure to improve security and curb the surge in rustling, which usually involves armed groups stealing livestock from other communities in and adjoining Kenya’s pastoral areas.
Drought-hit northern and eastern Kenya has seen a surge in cattle rustling in the recent past with the raids leading to an increasing number of deaths and a rise in economic losses.Early this month, internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti attributed the conflicts in northern Kenya especially in Moyale to power and resource sharing tensions in readiness for the eagerly awaited establishment of county governments.Clashes have also been reported between members of the Borana and Turkana communities in the central area of Isiolo, he added.
He said access to the areas affected by the violence has not been easy due to insecurity, but the Kenyan Red Cross Society has been carrying out some relief work among those displaced.
Livestock herding is the main livelihood and source of income in northern and some parts of eastern Kenya, and the hike in cattle thefts threatens to ignite cross-community reprisals and raids that could set the stage for a surge in ethnic fighting in the region.