21+ die in Kenyan tribal clashes

2012-01-27 17:55
Isiolo -Tribal militias in northern Kenya clashed over grazing rights for a second day on Friday, killing at least 21 people and torching houses, residents said.

Corpses lay strewn in scrubland outside three villages near the town of Moyale, the residents said, and the figting between armed groups carrying automatic rifles and mortars raged on.

Pastoralist communities in northern Kenya have long locked horns over the control of highly valuable grazing land, but this week's fighting in the villages of Butiye, Harosa and Hellu marked an escalation in tensions.

"So far 21 bodies have been recovered from the three villages. We have reports that more bodies are lying in the bush," said Mohamed Korme, a local civil rights activist.

Provincial Commissioner Issaih Nakoru said the official death toll confirmed so far was five.

He said Kenya's government had deployed soldiers and a paramilitary police unit to the remote corner of the country to quell the fighting, which some residents said had been stoked by local politicians.

A local primary school teacher said elders from the warring Borana and Gabra communities estimated at least 34 people had been killed.

The violence has sucked in Ethiopian fighters from both communities, other residents said.

"The market is closed, all shops are shut and we have been locked up in our house for the last two days," resident Ahmed Said said.

More than 5 000 people have fled their homes and the Kenyan Red Cross was supplying non-food items to displaced families, the relief agency said.

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