At least 48 Kenyans have been killed in ethnic clashes between two rival groups, Pokomo and Orma, in southeastern Kenya. Police say the tragedy is the worst single attack since deadly post-election violence four years ago.
Said Mgeni, a local resident, says the attack began at dawn when a group of 200 people belonging to Pokomo ethnic group raided an Orma community torching all the houses.
The conflict between Pokomo farmers and Orma pastoralists has been caused by disputes over land and resources.
Police say 34 people were hacked and 14 others were burnt to death with a whole Orma village on an island in the Tana River put to ashes. "They [victims] include 31 women, 11 children and six men," regional deputy police chief Joseph Kitur said.
Ali Algi, who survived the attack but was injuries in his head and hand, said that they were set upon by hundreds of men.
"Most of us were asleep and others had woken up when the men came chanting `kill them, kill them' towards our village at about seven o'clock. They shot many people and then attacked others with pangas,” he told AP.
Algi said that he witnessed men, women and children being shot and then beheaded and others being locked and burned inside their houses.
The deadly fighting did not spare the cattle either, with 60 cows also slashed to death by the attackers.
Lawmaker Danson Mungatana, who represents the area, says the killings are “revenge attacks” in a string of tit-for-tat clashes and cattle raids. Last week the Orma attacked the Pokomo and burned down more than 100 houses.
“Now the Pokomo revenged [sic] by killing about 50 people," Mungatana said.
The Kenyan tribes of Pokomo and Orma have been at odds since 2001, when at least 130 people were killed in a string of clashes in the same district and by the same two communities. The rivalry is centered around access to land and a river.