News24

Kenya cops arrest 61 after tribal attack

2012-12-23 19:37

Nairobi - Kenyan police said on Sunday they have arrested 61 suspects over a brutal attack on a remote village in the southeast involving two rival communities that left 45 people dead including women and children.

Villagers were hacked to death and their homes torched in Friday's attack on Kipao village in the Tana River delta region, an area where deadly tribal violence killed another 100 people earlier this year.

Police said on Saturday they had arrested 56 people, including a police officer, in the wake of the onslaught, which they feared could further inflame tensions between the rival Orma and Pokomo communities in the area.

Another five were arrested in a late-night "security operation," a police officer said on condition of anonymity on Sunday.

Police attributed the killings to a disarmament operation in the area but the violence could also be linked to the election being held next March, the first since Kenya was gripped by deadly inter-ethnic killings after a December 2007 vote.

Police said the dead in Kipao included 16 children, five women and 10 men, along with 14 assailants.

The United States said on Saturday it condemned "in the strongest terms" the renewed violence between the communities in the Tana area, where conflicts have flared intermittently over access to land and water points.

"This latest incident represents a disturbing escalation of the tragic violence witnessed by these communities in August and September," White House spokesperson Jay Carney said in a statement.

"With historic elections approaching in March, peace and stability are essential to Kenya's continued progress," Carney said.

The White House also called on the Kenyan government, police and Orma and Pokomo leaders to "bring an end to this deadly cycle of conflict, intensify efforts to establish a durable peace in the Tana delta and hold to account the perpetrators of these heinous acts".

Kenya votes on 4 March in its first election since the disputed 2007 vote, which led to the worst inter-ethnic violence since independence with more than 1 100 people killed and hundreds of thousands displaced.

Two of the candidates running for the presidency are Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who lost his bid in the 2007 vote, and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for his alleged role in the violence which shattered Kenya's image as a beacon of regional stability.