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Police launch rescue for village under militia siege

25 November 2013, 08:00

Turkana - Police launched operations Sunday against armed militiamen who have laid siege to a village in Turkana amid a border dispute between communities.

A day earlier, militiamen surrounding the village of Lorokon, home to the clashing rival Pokot and Turkana communities, seized three police stations and put up "heavy resistance" against police sent to the area, authorities said.

"Two operations are being carried out... to re-establish order in Lorokon," the National Disaster Operations Centre wrote on its Twitter feed Sunday without giving further details.

"The siege is still ongoing," the centre said.

Earlier Sunday the NDOC had reported that clashes had ended but that militiamen were still in the area.

Kenyan authorities, who imposed a curfew in the area Saturday, were not immediately available for comment on the siege.

According to a statement from the Kenyan Red Cross, "an estimated 600 to 900 residents of the village are surrounded by Pokot armed men who are said to be numbering over 150".

The organisation said leaders from the two communities were due to meet on Sunday to try to resolve the dispute.

Two Red Cross teams were in the meantime negotiating with the leaders to get humanitarian access to residents facing a crisis after days spent unable to leave the village.

"More than 900 people, mostly women and children, cannot go out to look for water and food because they are surrounded by gunmen," regional governor Josphat Nanok warned, in comments quoted by the Kenyan press agency on Saturday.

According to the Red Cross, trouble began on November 18 after the death of two Pokot, blamed on the Turkana tribe. Retaliating Pokot then surrounded the village.

The Turkana and Pokot tribes, experienced in fighting and farming, often clash, mostly over cattle rustling and territory.

The current crisis in Turkana South is "not new", said the Red Cross.

"This is a resource-based conflict which includes land, pasture, water, cattle rustling and politics.... Even if the current stalemate is resolved, we are almost certain that this will recur."



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