11 January 2013

Kenya: Tana Clashes Politically Instigated - Kimaiyo

Nairobi — The Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo is accusing politicians of fuelling the bloodbath witnessed in Tana River that has left more than 150 Kenyans dead since August last year.

In a statement sent to newsrooms on Friday, Kimaiyo said there was a high chance that certain politicians were inciting the tribal clashes, to eject one community from the region.

Kimaiyo however assured Kenyans that investigators were looking into claims that the clashes, which have once again put Kenya on the spot, were being driven by a political agenda.

"The aim is to speedily assemble evidence against the persons implicated and arraign them in a court of law. There is also strong indication that prosecution of the key perpetrators will restore law and order and bring the killings to a halt," he said.

Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe had earlier addressed a press briefing on behalf of the Inspector General where he stressed that the violent clashes had little to do with communal rivalry over shared resources.

"In most of these attacks there has been no theft of property and where it has occurred, it is more of an afterthought than the actual motive. In one incident, 60 heads of cattle which could have been easily stolen were instead killed," he noted.

Kiraithe however told journalists that investigators were unable to piece together the link between the violent clashes and some of the local leaders.

He said that two MPs in the area could not be arrested because police were having difficulties in gathering enough evidence to nail them.

Already, police have prosecuted 35 suspects since the violence started.

"Logistical infrastructure is slowing down investigations because you don't want to take someone to court then the case is thrown out for want of prosecution," he argued.

Kiraithe also said that it was becoming difficult to conduct investigations in Tana River because the local communities would not open up to police and even harboured individuals who carried the attacks and counterattacks.

He claimed that the locals sometimes knew when a possible attack was in the offing but still remained mum.

"The communities in Tana River are literally spending time with the police officers deployed there. They eat with them; in fact most of them get their food from police camps but for some reason, even a child cannot give out information," he complained.

Kiraithe added that the police would be seeking the intervention of the Judiciary, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Witness Protection Agency to help restore sanity in the volatile area.

The Kenya Red Cross is already reporting a major humanitarian crisis occasioned by displacements of hundreds of families now camping at schools and mosques after the killings of 22 people in the past two days.

Kiraithe also urged the media to censor some of its reports on the clashes to prevent the situation from escalating.

The Tana Delta situation has caused a major uproar amongst Kenyans on social media after the People Daily and The Star newspapers splashed gruesome photographs of women and school children killed there on Thursday.

"Why do you continue covering people of bad character? If I stand in the media and brag about being the toughest because I escaped the police after taking part in the murder of 100 Kenyans, will you still broadcast it?" he posed in conclusion.

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