Heavy Killings in Turkana South District
Killings in Turkana South District
Heavily armed Kenya‘s Pokot tribesmen raided their neighboring Turkana herders, killing seven and stealing several herds of cattle in the country’s Rift Valley, officials and witnesses said on Saturday.
Over 200 Pokot warriors with rifles attacked Kapelipok watering point, a remote area in Turkana South district and ambushed local herders during the Friday incident.
Turkana South District Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri said the warriors from Pokot North district struck the area at 3PM local time and surrounded the herders prompting a fierce gun battle between the attackers and Kenya police reservists.
“The warriors ambushed the herders while watering their cattle at a watering point and there was a fierce gun fight between the intruders and the police reserve. Seven herders including a police reserve were killed and dozen other herders were wounded,” Kanyiri told Xinhua on phone from Lokichar district headquarters.
Local residents said that the warriors stole over 1,500 herds of cattle after overpowering the herders, a figure Kanyiri could not verify.
A tribal leader in the area John Aule said over 1,500 herds of cattle were driven away by the bandits and that over 10 herders were left with bullet wounds.
The warriors, he said had divided themselves in groups before they simultaneously attacked Kapelipok and Kaptir areas, about 190 km south of Lodwar town.
“The attackers were in two groups and they were heavily armed. One group went to Kapelipok while the other descended on Kaptir. For over two hours there were heavy gun shots before the attackers overpowered the herders and escaped with the livestock towards Ombolion area in Kasei Pokot North district,” said Aule.
The tribal leader and right activists said that hundreds of villagers are fleeing their homes in the two areas fearing more attacks from the Pokot warriors.
Some police officers from Kainuk police station escaped death by a whisky on Friday evening when the fleeing Pokots warriors laid an ambush on the escaping route.
An officer who declined to be named because he is not authorized said the officers challenged the warriors in a shoot out but could not manage recover stolen animals.
Eliud Emeri from the Greater Turkana Civil Society Network, a local humanitarian organization told Xinhua that he had witnessed several villagers fleeing their homes in Nakwamoru, Kaptir, Lokwaar Kogito to safe areas in Kakong and Kainuk.
“There is high tension along the border of the two communities and hundreds of Turkana villagers are fleeing homes fearing more attacks from the Pokot tribesmen,” the officials told Xinhua on phone.
The government on Saturday mobilized security forces to pursue the rustlers and recover the animals. Kanyiri said more reinforcement had been summoned from Pokot County to back up the team from Turkana County to mount a security operation and track down the rustlers.
“There is a major security operation in area we suspect the animals were driven to and local tribal chiefs have been ordered to aid the recovery of the animals,” said the official.
Conflict over boundary between the two communities has fueled bloody confrontation and revenge attacks in the recent past with calls for the government to form a task force to address the problem.
The two pastoralist communities are claiming ownership of the Turkwel Hydro-electric power plant laying at the common border. Operations at the plant has since last November halted by heavy communal fighting forcing the staff to flee the area.