20 September 2012

Kenya: No Bodies Found in Suspected Mass Graves

Photo: Capital FM
Residents view victims of ethnic violence at a mosque in the Tana Delta District (file photo).

No bodies have been found in two suspected mass graves in Tana River.

Police and pathologists who dug the assumed graves in the troubled region, where a recent string of bloody clashes between rival ethnic groups left over 100 dead on Thursday were stunned when they only found part of a decayed leg buried underground.

"They have dug the two areas but nothing was found. They only found a piece of a human leg," Coast Police Chief Aggrey Adoli said, adding, "We are also shocked."

A Kenya Red Cross official who witnessed the exercise meant to exhume the would-be bodies says it is strange because there was a strong stench coming out of the area.

"It is difficult to believe that there is nothing because the area really smells bad. It is very strange that there is nothing underground other than a small piece of a human leg," the official said.

Police have said they will continue investigating to establish if there are bodies buried in other areas within Ozi village where the two sites which appeared like mass graves were discovered.

"Our officers are on the ground investigating the issue, we will have to know the truth," he said.

Violence between the groups erupted in mid-August, pitting the Pokomo farming community against their Orma pastoralist neighbours, leading to a series of vicious reprisal killings and attacks.

The two communities have clashed in the past - violence that has often been attributed to disputes over water and grazing rights.

But the scale and intensity of recent killings - with women and children hacked to death or torched in their huts - has shocked many and locals say politicians are fuelling the violent surge.

Last week, Dhadho Godhana, Member of Parliament for Galole in the Tana River delta, was charged in court with incitement to violence.

More than 1,000 paramilitary police have been deployed to the region in an effort to stem further attacks.

The latest clashes have evoked the large-scale ethnic violence that erupted in the aftermath of Kenya's disputed 2007 polls, when blood-letting rocked a country long thought to have been among the region's most stable.

Some observers fear a surge in violence ahead of elections due in March 2013.

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