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At least 12 killed in inter-ethnic clashes in Wajir

30 May 2014, 07:55

Wajir - At least 12 people were on Thursday killed and several others injured following inter-ethnic clashes in Wajir County.

Wajir County police commander David Kuria said several houses were also torched as fighting between two rival Somali clans escalates into bloody conflict.

Kuria said the attack at Gunan, a Degodia village in Tarbaj constituency was carried out by suspected Garre militia believed to be on revenge for ten Garre people killed by Degodia bandits in the last four days in Takaba sub-county in Mandera.

"The people were killed after heavily armed gun men descended on the village located at border with Mandera County at 7 a.m.," he said.

Kuria, however, said he cannot confirm whether those killed died as result of fire following the burning of their traditional makeshift houses by the assailants or whether they died of gunshots.

"The area where the attacks occurred is about 250 kilometer from Wajir town and I need to get information back from my officers who went there this morning (Thursday) to come back since the area has no network. But as now I can confirm 12 people, 10 men and two women were killed in the raid."

Garre and Degodia clans, who have coexisted in Mandera and Wajir counties for years harmoniously, have turned bitter foes due to political disputes.

Both Garre and Degodia have communal presence and have sophisticated armed militia in Ethiopia who has been used in clan fighting in the Horn of Africa.

The county police commander said security reinforcement was sent to the scene, adding that some police officers who were stationed at the border village managed to repulse back the attackers.

"We suspect the attack is a revenge for Wednesday attack in Takaba by suspected Degodia gunmen in Mandera County, where people were killed some animals including camel, sheep and goats were killed," Kuria said.

"The situation in the ground is tense and we have spoken to our colleagues in our neighboring Mandera County to send more security personnel on their side to make sure the attackers don't escape or cause more harm."

Kuria said the biggest headache they were experiencing in ending the senseless inter-clan bloodshed was the absence of the fighting clans to embrace forgiveness and choice on revenge for every killing.

The latest killings comes as security agencies in Wajir and Mandera counties are worried by the an upsurge of infiltration of firearms into to the conflict counties as the two warring clans arms to the teeth to outdo each other in the number of people killed.

The county police chief said police in Wajir has nabbed two gun runners and recovered 660 rounds of ammunition and 23 magazines, shortly after it was sneaked into the country from Somalia.

Kirui said the police acting on tip off intercepted at Diff border point briefly after been sneaked in by the smugglers. The suspects are now held at Wajir police station for more interrogations.

He said the suspect the weapons were been destined for used in the raging inter-communal fighting pitting Degodia and Garre community.

The two warring clans of Degodia and Garre have over the years been fighting for supremacy and control of the county something that has degenerated into clashes.

The clashes led to the government deploying a contingent of security personnel to quell the clashes in July last year. The locals were also asked to surrender the firearms they had in their possession through the disarmament program.

Tension and conflict between the two communities have historically resulted from competition for natural resources, but recently the emerging tensions are attributed to political disagreements over governance issues under the new devolution structures.

The area has been unstable since last year's general elections in which the Garre community received most of the elective seats.

 - Xinhua

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