News 2008


10 killed in Laikipia violence

Sunday Nation


09. March 2008

The official death toll from the violence that broke out in Laikipia West district on Wednesday now stands at 10.

Police have arrested two suspects and recovered nine firearms during an operation to crack down on the attackers who have burnt down 38 houses and left a trail of destruction and misery.

As part of the intensified security, a contingent of security personnel was dispatched to clear the Nyahururu-Maralal Road near Gatundia, which had been barricaded by residents protesting the increased attacks in the area.

The residents have been blaming the police, saying they were reluctant to arrest the raiders who have been stealing their livestock, triggering the violence that has now turned tribal.

The clashes flared up when a suspected cattle thief was lynched early last week.

This has worsened the existing rivalry and suspicion between members of one community who are farmers and their neighbours who are pastoralists.

Cattle rustling has rocked the area for decades. Gangs from one community took 72 hours to prepare and mount a revenge attack in the wee hours of Thursday night.

The vicious raids, carried out simultaneously by scores of gun-toting men, left several people dead and saw the destruction of houses. This led to a bloody clash the following day.

Yesterday, hundreds of residents fled to local police stations and police posts after more houses were burnt at Mutamaiyu.

Local leaders say the conflict is not linked to politics or land issues.

“There is hatred and suspicion between farmers and pastoralists over wealth,” said Mr Joseph Eilman, the chairman of Rumuruti Town Council.

The chairman said some communities feel they have been sidelined for a long time in the distribution of available resources and had resorted to violence to bridge the gap.

He asked the government to improve the infrastructure in areas dominated by pastoral communities to boost their economic gains.

The District Commissioner, Julius Mutula, addressed the internally displaced people and tried in vain to have the fleeing families return to their homes.

He had asked the families to come up with a reconciliation committee to address their grievances.

They agreed to form a team with members drawn from both communities.