10 killed in Laikipia violence
Story by MOSES MWATHI
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
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
“There is hatred and suspicion between farmers and pastoralists
over wealth,” said Mr Joseph Eilman, the chairman of Rumuruti Town
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