Three killed, houses razed in fresh Tana River clashes

By: ALPHONCE GARI

Three people were killed in clashes between pastoralists and farmers at Hurara area, Tana Delta subcounty, Tana River, on Monday night.

At least six others were injured when gunmen, suspected to be from the Wardei pastoralist community, raided the village and burned down several houses.

There are reports that the gang, said to be armed with guns, arrows and spears, has been carrying out night raids since Monday.

The gunmen are said to target farmers from the Mijikenda community who are opposed to the grazing of animals in the area.

The body of a boda boda rider, who went missing after the raid, was found in a thicket at Miticharaka area, during a visit by officials from the Kenya Red Cross Society on Thursday.

Evaline Dama, a mother of nine children, lost five houses in the attack during which her brother was shot in the thigh.

“We heard gunshots and the next minute a group of heavily armed men raided our home and asked to see my husband who was away,” Dama recounted.

“They then burnt all the houses and kept guard until everything was reduced to ashes.”

She said displaced families do not have food and clothes and have been sleeping in a nearby forest since the raid, for fear of the gang’s return.

Resident Yawa Makupe lost property worth more than Sh300,000 after the gang burned down his four-bedroom house, which included a shop.

Thomas Dzombo from Katsangani said the farmers and pastoralists have clashed for the last six years.

Dzombo said the pastoralists once came to the area, during harvest season, with thousands of cattle that destroyed their crops.

“Whenever we ask them to leave they tell us the crops are miraa for their cattle,” he said.

“We have reported the matter several times but there seems to be laxity from the government to resolve the disputes.”

Some residents claimed the clashes are politically motivated and are aimed at evicting the farmers from their land.

Security personnel on Tuesday visited affected villages, which residents are deserting but Deputy county commissioner Mike Kimoko could not be reached for comment.

KRCS conducted an assessment and helped some of the victims to the main road; vehicles cannot access the villages because of rough terrain and there is no police post.

In 2012 more than 200 people were murdered and thousands others displaced when farmers from the Pokomo community clashed with the pastoralists.