NAIROBI — Ethnic violence has left another 32 people dead in the Tana Delta in Kenya’s coastal region, according to the Red Cross. Two regional lawmakers blame the government for failing to stop weeks of clashes between the Ormo and Pokomo communities.
What started as small-scale reprisal attacks seven months ago in the Tana Delta has escalated into ethnic violence claiming nearly 100 lives. The 32 killed in the latest wave of attacks include nine police officers.
The Red Cross says in the latest violence, more than 300 armed men attacked Kilelengwani village and set fire 167 houses.
A leading member of parliament from the coastal region, Danson Mungatana, accused the government of failing to take action against what he termed “militias” attacking villages in Tana Delta.
“The Criminal Investigation Department, why is it that for seven months there has been no arrests, no people charged, no people taken before the law? And therefore people feeling that there is impunity and taking the law into their hands, we have those questions the government to answer,” said Mungatana.
Another lawmaker from Bura town in Tana River district, Abdi Nasir Nuh, calls for the government to take the situation more seriously.
“It has taken them three weeks, now (they) see the enormity of the matter and if they thought only civilians would be killed, and maybe the lives of the Ormos and Pokomos are not important, then they are losing their own officers today and police machines have been stolen, guns are gone, and now the place in total dismay," Nuh said. "So I think we ask Nairobi to get serious, let them get serious.”
Last month, 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.
The two communities have fought over land and water resources for years, but officials say the recent violence has taken on a political dimension, as politicians fight for power before next year’s national elections.