Kenya: Politicians Probed as Clashes Leave Five Dead

Investigations have been launched into the alleged involvement of local politicians in a recent attack at Kambi Samaki area in Garbatulla near Isiolo-Garissa border that claimed five lives in two days.

The attack is believed to have been retaliatory as it came a week after a man was killed and hundreds of animals belonging to one of the communities living near the disputed area were stolen. Several people were injured, houses torched, eight motorbikes stolen and other properties destroyed when the attackers unleashed terror in the area last week.

Police are now investigating whether local politicians had a hand in the killings, the second worst after the January attack at Urura village near Isiolo-Wajir boundary where six people were killed in less than a week.

Security officers believe the recent attack could have been thwarted if the first one was reported in time, but surprisingly, no report over the incident was made at the nearest Garbatulla police station.

A contingency of officers was last week deployed to the disputed area to beef up security. However, tension is still high, with several families yet to return home.

And although elected leaders from Isiolo, Wajir and Garissa during a meeting convened by Interior CS Fred Matiang'i in January following the Urura killings vowed to spearhead peace initiatives and ensure residents from the three counties co-exist, little has been achieved.

Politics has infiltrated the protracted disputes such that police officers are perceived to serve respective communities and residents from one of the counties cannot report crime in a neighbouring county even when it has the nearest police post.

Violence

Isiolo County Commissioner Herman Shambi revealed that they have launched investigations after residents raised concerns that some politicians could have fanned the violence that has spread fear and panic in the area.

Also on police radar are local administrators and police officers from both counties said to have done little to prevent the attack and taking long to respond to distress calls.

"We are investigating the alleged involvement of politicians in the attack, and we will take stern action against anyone found culpable," Mr Shambi told the Nation.

Mr Shambi said police have no boundaries and residents should therefore feel free to report any incident to the nearest police station regardless of whether the offices are in their county or the neighbouring areas so that quick response is offered.

Besides control of water and pastures, the attacks are mostly used for expansionist agenda and to instil fear in the local communities for them to abandon their ancestral land.

Proliferation of illegal firearms in Northern Kenya has been blamed for the perennial clashes and insecurity in the region.

Forceful disarmament

Mr Shambi asked those in possession of the guns to surrender them to authorities or face forceful disarmament, saying the government has enough officers to protect people and their properties.

"The community should work with police in ensuring the firearms are surrendered in the shortest time possible," he stressed.

He asked communities to shun leaders propagating hatred.

The region's security team is banking on elders from the warring communities to achieve lasting peace.

"We have asked them (elders) to continue holding dialogue to ensure peaceful coexistence. We will not allow few individuals to divide our people and disrupt peace," Mr Shambi noted.

The State, he said, is committed to offering a lasting solution to the boundary disputes.

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