22 January 2013

Kenya: Tension High in Voi After Clashes Over Pastures

Tension is high at Sagalla in Voi following recent clashes between camel herders and Teri B group ranch members over pastures. The skirmishes left two people dead.

Five people have since died while scores have been injured in the region following the clashes that started three months ago. Human rights officials from the area fear that if the conflict is not addressed, more killings may occ

A Muslim for Human Rights lobby group officer Charles Mwadeghu said following continued attacks, locals could be planning retaliatory attacks. He said last week Teri B group ranch members forced out the herders from their land.

"Muhuru is planning a leaders' meeting to bring all stakeholders together so that the issue can be deliberated and solved in an amicable way," he said.

Mwadeghu called on the leaders to find a lasting solution. Sagalla residents who spoke to the Star said they fear for their security following attacks by the armed herders.

"I have been a victim of the attacks by the camel herders from North Eastern who have invaded our farms. I lost my teeth after four armed herders trailed and attacked me while I was grazing my cows," he said.

Taita police chief Samson Kinne condemned the attacks and said police were immediately deployed to the area to restore order. He said problems started when members of Teri B group ranch at Sagalla attacked camel herders who accused them of remaining at their ranch despite their lease expiring.

"Several ranch members stormed the vast ranch and began driving out the camels before a confrontation between the camel herders and the ranch members ensued resulting to a fight," he said.

In December last year, Sagalla residents led by former Wundanyi MP Mwandawiro Mghanga walked for more than 12 kilometres to the Voi DCs office to protest the killing of a man by suspected herders.

In February last year, six people were seriously injured by suspected camel herders at Sisera area,Mwatate constituency when they attempted to drive the camels out of their farms. Sources indicated that several camels have been killed by locals in revenge.

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