20 die as clans fight in boundary dispute

What you need to know:

  • Police spokesperson Gatiria Mboroki said 20 people were killed while nine were injured.
  • Ms Mboroki added that the General Service Unit (GSU), regular and administration police, as well as Kenya Defence Forces from the Elwak base had been sent to the area.

At least 20 people were killed in  renewed clan violence on the Wajir-Mandera county border on Saturday night.

According to Tarbarj OCPD David Kirui five other people were injured in the fighting. Thirty five houses were also burnt down.
Only a month ago, another 13 people were killed in violence between the two rival clans.

The latest round of clashes could have been triggered by the killing of two university students at Rhamu. The two were travelling from a farm in Mandera when they were attacked.

Mandera County Commissioner Mr Michael Tialal confirmed the fighting but could not divulge further details, only saying  the killings happened in Wajir.

Wajir County Commissioner Mr Naftally Mugatia and Police Commander Philip Chirchir drove to the flashpoint but they could not be reached for comment.

Police spokesperson Gatiria Mboroki said 20 people were killed while nine were injured.

“The fighting was reported at 10 am. Members of the Degodia clan had claimed that their livestock had been stolen in a raid but the police did not have such a report,” she said.

Ms Mboroki added that the General Service Unit (GSU), regular and administration police, as well as Kenya Defence Forces from the Elwak base had been sent to the area.

Feared dead
However, there were conflicting reports as to the total number of those killed with the Kenya Red Cross Secretary General Abbas Gullet saying 13 were feared dead.

“The fighting broke out today (Sunday) between the two clans at Gunan area and 13 are feared dead,” Mr Gullet told the Nation on phone on Sunday.

Red Cross personnel said 20 people, all men, had been killed.

Both Tarbaj Deputy Commissioner David Rotich and the Officer Commanding the Police Division, Mr Soita Mwanja, could not be reached on phone to confirm the reports.

Heavily armed raiders from Mandera are said to have crossed the border to Wajir where they clashed with fighters from a rival clan who were guarding a village.

The men were keeping watch after women and children moved from the area following the sporadic clashes between the two clans.

The internally displaced persons are being housed at a Red Cross camp in Tarbaj.

This wave of violence in Mandera and Wajir counties has left more than 40 people dead and hundreds displaced in the last month alone.

Recently, three men were shot dead in Ogoralle, Wajir County, on May 13. The three were clearing bushes on a road between Wajir and Mandera counties when they were attacked, according to authorities.

The roadworks, funded by the Wajir county government, have been a source of controversy between the two clans.

In a retaliatory attack two days later, gunmen from Wajir ambushed a vehicle from Mandera, killing five people and injuring three others, according to Mandera County Police Commander Noah Mwivanda.

These attacks have since been followed has by tit-for-tat raids in both counties.

Earlier this month, leaders from Mandera and Wajir counties said failure to solve the boundary dispute in the area was to blame for the latest fighting.

Although calm had returned to the two counties, the arrival of surveyors in the area recently was expected to reduce tension as grazing areas were clearly defined.

According Mr Ahmed Sheikh, an executive committee member in charge of Conflict Resolution, Cohesion and Integration in Mandera County, failure to demarcate the boundary of the two counties had caused the conflict between the two clans.

During a security meeting last month, Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi Mohamad asked the national government to urgently send a team of surveyors to help mark the boundary between the two devolved units.

Mr Mohamad said the border dispute had fuelled the clash that left more than 30 people dead then.

However, others said the fighting was due to political realignments caused the last General Election.

They have asked the police to arrest and charge some politicians with incitement.

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