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Kenya Clan Fight Leaves 30 Dead

By Tervil Okoko, PANA, 21 July 2000

NAIROBI, Kenya (PANA) - About 30 people are feared dead in inter-clan clashes that erupted along Kenya's northern frontier, the East African Standard reported Friday.

It said that the skirmishes occurred when more than 100 heavily armed bandits, believed to be from the Garre clan of Wajir North district, about 468 miles north of Nairobi, attacked their neighbours, the Ajuran pastoralists at Bambaa Wednesday.

Five Ajuran elders were reported killed during the attack.

Wajir town is about 30 miles from the Kenya-Somali border. The attack sparked off a fierce gun battle between armed gangs of the two communities leading to the killings.

The incident comes barely two weeks after militiamen attacked a group of pastoralists killing eight persons before fleeing with over 100 animals.

Kenya's northern frontier, bordering Somalia and Ethiopia, has been volatile with bandits ruling the vast dry land with the power of the barrel.

Local residents have accused the government of losing control and failing to protect lives and property.

However, government authorities blame the volatile and ungovernable situation on constant proliferation of arms from Somalia and those brought in by Oromo Liberation Front rebels of Ethiopia who have turned parts of northern Kenya into their operation base.

Further reports indicate that the Kenya army and police moved in to disperse the bandits after hours of gun battle.

Police spokesman, Peter Kimanthi, said a fierce exchange of fire ensued at Bamba, about 15 miles from Butte police station at about 8 AM (0500 GMT).

He added that 15 people, including 10 Garre bandits and five Ajuran elders, were confirmed dead.

Wajir District Officer Mohammed Mohamud could only confirm 17 deaths. He gave the breakdown of the victims as five Ajurans and 12 Garres.

However, local leaders said more than 30 people may have been killed in the clashes. More security personnel have been sent to the area to reinforce military and police detachments stationed at Gurar.

The Garre sub-clan accuses the Ajuran of harbouring the Ethiopian rebels, while the latter accuses the Garre of using Ethiopian soldiers to kill their clansmen and steal livestock.

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