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Families displaced, houses burned as clashes escalate in Mandera

01 June 2014, 09:16

Mandera - More than 200 families have been left homeless and houses torched in revenge at the Wajir- Mandera border late on Friday as inter-tribal fighting escalates.

Wajir County Commissioner Naftali Mungathia said on Saturday members of Degodia clan descended on Wagaberi, a village predominately inhabited by members of their rival Garre community, and set fire on the entire settlement.

The inter-clan skirmishes pitting two Somali pastoralists' clans took a nasty twist of burning each others' settlements on Friday as the government rushed to deploy soldiers to help restore calm in the troubled regions.

"Many houses both permanent and tradition Somali huts were razed down by the Degodia clan members on Friday, who were presumably revenging for their people killed in Gunan on Thursday by suspected Garre armed militia," Mungathia said.

"We are still doing assessment on the exact number of houses burnt down in rampage, but the numbers isn't less than twenty houses. This includes some permanent structures. The situation was very volatile in the morning, but now a relative calm has returned. "

Mungathia said the arrival of the corpses of those brutally killed in Gunan raid, which was brought to Wajir town for burial, has sparked emotion leading to mourners to venting their anger on the Wagbera village, where Garre are the majority dwellers.

The families mainly from the Garre community were forced to bore the brunt of 12 Degodia people killed on Thursday in border area of Gunan in Tarbaj constituency, after enraged rowdy Degodia rioters turned their anger on Garre village in the outskirts of Wajir town.

Mungathia said security personnel who were deployed to the area after the incident managed to repulse back the rowdy mourners and secured the village as hundreds of panic stricken resident flee for their safety.

"We are lucky nobody was hurt in the incident. Many of the dwellers have left the village earlier, after possibly sensing danger from a targeted revenge attacks by members of their rival clan," he noted.

However, a local reports indicates that, an elderly man from another clan not involved in the conflict was clobbered to death, after being mistaken as a Garre, threatening a possibility of a third clan sucked in into the conflict.

The county administrator said a total of about 300 households were been internally displaced with Wajir town since the renewal of the hostilities between, the warring clans two weeks ago.

"The members of the Garre community are fleeing toward the Bulla Hodan and other areas dominated by their clan members or other friendly clans, while Degodia people are also fleeing from far-flung areas on Gunan, Sarman, Ogoralle and Dunto, which are closer to areas in Mandera county, where Garre are majority.

The government has disclosed that it is sending surveyors to the area to demarcate the boundary, cited as the cause of the conflict between the two counties.

"We are waiting for government surveyors from Nairobi to come and re-establish the boundary," Mandera County Commissioner Michael Tialal said.

Meanwhile, one person was killed in Rhamu town on Friday evening on the Mandera side as hundreds of families affected by the three weeks old inter-clan fighting move out in exodus from the clash torn centers with babies strapped on their backs.

Rhamu, which is the epicenter of the conflict pitting two Somali sub-clan of Degodia and Garre, has become a deserted town, as members of the rival clans left toward areas, which their community are majority to avoid been caught in retaliatory raids by marauding clan militia.

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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