News / Africa

Kenyan Troops Try to Keep Peace in Tana River

Hundreds of homes like this one were burned to the ground, and 38 people died in the massacre, carried out by Pokomo militia, in Kilelengwani, Kenya, September 2012. (VOA - R. Gogineni)Hundreds of homes like this one were burned to the ground, and 38 people died in the massacre, carried out by Pokomo militia, in Kilelengwani, Kenya, September 2012. (VOA - R. Gogineni)
x
Hundreds of homes like this one were burned to the ground, and 38 people died in the massacre, carried out by Pokomo militia, in Kilelengwani, Kenya, September 2012. (VOA - R. Gogineni)
Hundreds of homes like this one were burned to the ground, and 38 people died in the massacre, carried out by Pokomo militia, in Kilelengwani, Kenya, September 2012. (VOA - R. Gogineni)
Roopa Gogineni
Thousands have fled violence that claimed more than 100 lives in August and September in Kenya’s Tana River District. One-thousand paramilitary troops have been deployed to keep a tenuous peace between the Pokomo and Orma communities.  

Today in Kilelengwani, Marabou storks circle the carcasses of cows scattered between the remains of still-smoldering homes.
 
On September 11, a few hundred Pokomo men wielding guns, machetes and spears attacked the village in Kenya’s Tana River District, killing 38 people. Nine of the victims were police officers sent to protect the village. Most others were Orma women and children.
 
In Nairobi, Hussein Dado, a candidate running for governor of Tana River County, received a call from his niece the morning of the massacre.

"I have never been traumatized the way I was traumatized by a call from a woman who ran for safety into the mosque. She is a niece. She called me on the phone and said, ‘Uncle we are being killed, please save us.’ I could hear children crying," said Dado.
 
A village elder in Kilelengwani, Omar Shure, also was inside the mosque. He threw himself against the door, keeping the militia outside the main room. But attackers broke into an adjacent prayer room where several people were hiding.

“They left them, just there, after killing," said Shure. "In the room... two children, five women.”

A victim of the Tana River clashes between the pastoralists and farmers within the delta region rests inside a ward at the Malindi District hospital in Kenya, September 7, 2012.A victim of the Tana River clashes between the pastoralists and farmers within the delta region rests inside a ward at the Malindi District hospital in Kenya, September 7, 2012.
x
A victim of the Tana River clashes between the pastoralists and farmers within the delta region rests inside a ward at the Malindi District hospital in Kenya, September 7, 2012.
A victim of the Tana River clashes between the pastoralists and farmers within the delta region rests inside a ward at the Malindi District hospital in Kenya, September 7, 2012.
The massacre at Kilelengwani followed a string of attacks between the agriculturalist Pokomo and pastoralist Orma communities.  Historically, tensions flare between the two during dry season, when Orma bring their cattle to graze on Pokomo land.

Thousands of Pokomos and Ormas have fled their villages fearing retaliatory attacks. Pokomo elder Suleiman Ludu is staying in an internally displaced persons camp in the town of Witu.
   
"The Ormas, they come to the shambas [farms] and they graze on our plants, and if we refuse, they say, 'if you do not want us to graze here we will beat you and kill you.' So it is better we run instead of waiting to be killed," said Ludu.

International Crisis Group Kenya analyst Abdullahi Halakhe described the conflicting livelihoods of Tana River.

"How can we negotiate this reality? Some argue pastoralism is good for the area, in terms of economic activity, and it gives time for grass and other natural resources to regenerate. Others are dead set on saying that pastoralists should move away from their nomadic livelihoods and turn to agriculture," said Halakhe.

Though people on both sides have been killed, the majority of victims during the most recent violence have been Orma pastoralists.  Survivors describe an organized Pokomo militia, wearing red and black uniforms and having a clear command structure.
 
"They are after this delta, it is the only good delta in Kenya, the only big delta in Kenya," said Omar Bacha, an Orma health worker. "That is why our tribe are being killed, and their cows are being destroyed."
 
The Tana River region contains some of the nation’s most arable, but least developed land. Through the process of devolution outlined in Kenya’s new constitution, local administrators soon will have more control over regional resources.  

A Human Rights Watch report released last week implicates Tana River politicians in the attacks. Last week the government arrested parliament-member Dhadho Godhana in connection with the violence. Godhana is running for governor of Tana River Country in the elections scheduled for next March.
 
In addition to Godhana’s arrest and continuing investigations into the violence, the government has deployed 1,000 paramilitaries to secure the region. Despite these measures, both Pokomo and Orma have been slow to return home.

You May Like

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid