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Kenya tribal vendetta kills 33: Red Cross

Some 33 people including eight police officers were killed during ethnic clashes in a southeastern village in Kenya, Red Cross spokesman says

AFP , Monday 10 Sep 2012
Police walk past the remains of houses which were burned down during clashes in Chamwanamuma village, Tana River delta, north of Mombasa in Kenya Friday, Sept. 7, 2012. (Photo: AP)
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Tribesmen attacked a village in southeastern Kenya Monday, torching homes and sparking clashes that killed 33, in the latest round of tit-for-tat ethnic violence to plague the area, official said.

Eight police officers were among those killed in the vendetta between the Pokomo farming community and their Orma pastoralist neighbours which already left 52 dead last month in Kenya's worst tribal killings in years.

At least 300 members of the Pokomo tribe stormed Kilelengwani, a village in the Tana river delta and near some of the east African country's most idyllic beaches, early on Monday and attacked members of the Orma community.

Red Cross spokeswoman Nelly Muluka told AFP the death toll for the raid stood at 33, including eight police officers who were caught up in the fighting when they tried to respond to the emergency.

A police officer at the scene confirmed the incident and said that his colleagues had responded to a distress call from Kilelengwani.

"Tensions remain high in the area, but the fighting has stopped," Caleb Kilande, another Red Cross official, told AFP shortly after noon (0900 GMT).

A regional police officer who asked not to be named said the Pokomo attacked the Orma in Kilelengwani.

The two rival communities have clashed repeatedly over the use of land and water resources. The Pokomo are a largely settled farming people, planting crops along the Tana River, while the Orma are mainly cattle-herding pastoralists.

"The situation is getting dangerous, something needs to be done urgently," Kenya Red Cross chief Abbas Gullet said in a statement.

The Red Cross said it sent ambulances, paramedics and first aid teams into the village and that a further eight people were still in hospital.

Area legislator Danson Mungatana said a peace meeting between the two warring communities was held on Saturday.

"Something is not right, the violence broke out as a police operation to wipe out illegal guns in the area is ongoing," Mungatana said.

The attack happened in the Tarassa area of the Tana River district, close to the coast and some 300 kilometres (185 miles) from the capital Nairobi.

Last month, the same area witnessed a wave of violence in which at least 52 people, mainly women and children, were hacked or burnt to death in the worst ethnic massacre in Kenya for several years.

The August attack led to the questioning of local lawmaker Dhado Godhana, after Kenya's internal security minister accused him of fanning violence in the region, claims he has denied.

The violence follows warnings last month by Gullet that over 200 Kenyans have been killed in ethnic clashes since January.

Many of the attacks -- often small-scale tit-for-tat raids between rival ethnic groups in remote and impoverished rural regions -- generate little attention.

They are often blamed on tensions between communities sparked by land, grazing or water resources, not politics.

But the latest pattern of violence has conjured up the spectre of the largescale ethnic violence that erupted in the afternath of disputed 2007 polls.

The bloodletting at the time revealed the fragility of a country that had long been considered a rock of stability in the region and some observers fear a surge in violence ahead of fresh elections.

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