News / Africa

Kenyan Community Faces Escalating Violence Amid Tribal Clashes

Gabe Joselow
TANA RIVER, Kenya — The Orma community in Kenya's Tana Delta region launched a revenge attack on the rival Pokomo clan Friday, killing at least 10 people. Orma men had been threatening to retaliate for a raid on their village last month by Pokomo fighters that killed more than 50 people.
   
Weeks after their village was raided by members of the Pokomo clan, men in the Orma community say they are getting ready for a fight.
 
The government has tried to mediate peace between the communities, but villager Hassan Leke said they would rather take matters into their own hands.
 
“We are requesting the government to leave us alone with the Pokomo to sort out our differences. We no longer want peace. We want the war to continue. We want it to continue to the end,” said Leke.

Pokomo raid kills mostly women, children
 
On August 22 of this year, the Pokomo clan raided a village occupied by the Orma, killing 53 people, mostly women and children. Hundreds of animals also were slaughtered, depriving this pastoralist community of its livelihood.

Hundreds of families have been displaced by the fighting in Tana River. The Red Cross has set up three camps to assist some 230 households they say were affected by the violence.
 
Many Pokomo also have fled to the camps, fearing retaliation.

Revenge attacks could spike
 
Ruth Sanyo is a Luhyo woman married to a Pokomo man.
 
“We are scared because there is still tension around our homes," said Sanyo. "We can’t go back there because if the Ormas get us, they will kill us.”
 
The two communities have fought over resources for years, but officials say the recent violence has taken on a political dimension as politicians fight for power ahead of next year’s elections.
 
Kenya’s defense minister has ordered an investigation of Assistant Minister for Livestock Dhadho Godhana, suspected of involvement in the attacks.
 
Suspicion about political involvement

Godhana told Kenyan investigators in Nairobi Thursday he had no role in the violence.
 
“There was tension already arising from the conflicts between, misunderstanding between the farmers and the pastoralists and then followed by other instances of injuries, and then murder and all that," said Godhana. "So already the situation was building up. So, in my view, we have to get deeper to understand which hand was really behind these other series that led to the clashes now.”
 
Underdevelopment remains a challenge in the area. Some Orma say they want the government to play a more productive role by building hospitals and schools. Fuad Hajj is among those who want development rather than war.
 
“Education is very important to sustaining a family and uplifting one’s life," said Hajj. "So we are asking the government to build for us new schools and homes so we can continue with our livelihoods.”
 
Tana River is not the only region in Kenya seeing inter-ethnic fighting this year.
 
Red Cross officials say if nothing is done, violence across the country could be worse than after the last presidential election in 2007, in which more than 1,000 people were killed.
 
Amos Wangwa contributed to this story.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs