Kenyan tribal clash area smells of rotting flesh
Originally Published: September 12, 2012
The smell of rotting flesh permeates the air of this deserted Kenyan tribal area and blood still streaks the floor of the classroom where eight children were hacked to death Monday.
Next door is a blood-stained police truck with its tyres deflated and its windscreen shot to smithereens. Close by is the village itself — the walls of the abandoned mud huts charred and their thatch roofs destroyed.
The villagers have all fled following Monday morning’s attack in which 38 people, including several police officers, were shot, hacked or bludgeoned to death by hundreds of assailants.
Chunks of thatch are still smouldering next to what looks like a fresh mass grave.
The attacks have subsided but two local communities, the Pokomo and the Orma, are still trading blame and waiting in fear for the next assault.
Tribesmen attacked a further four villages Tuesday. The settlements were mostly deserted but a further four people were killed, the Red Cross said. On Wednesday residents were still piling whole families onto motorbikes, heading to places perceived to be safer.
Some of those who fled have taken refuge at a school in Dide Warde, part displaced camp, part barracks for the police reinforcements sent in.
Women sit on the ground cradling crying babies as toddlers jostle for food rations.
“We had heard rumours they were coming .. so we left home,” said Mwanaisha Mejumaa, who had fled Semikaro, one of the four villages attacked on Tuesday.
“They say we attacked them,” she snorted indignantly.
On Monday at least 300 Pokomo tribesmen stormed Kilelengwani, a village near some of the east African country’s most idyllic beaches, and attacked members of the rival Orma community.
On Tuesday it was the turn of the Orma to attack four villages: Semikaro, Laini, Nduru and Shirikisho, all in the Tana River delta.
Several dozen police are at the school, their rifles by their sides as they eat, do their laundry or polish their boots.
Ibrahim Dengu, trying to edge into the shade of a tree to escape the burning sun, says that even if they were more vigilant, the police would be no match for the assailants who attacked his home, burning it to the ground.
“Even if they were 100, they would be no match for the militia,” he said.
A policeman at the camp, who asked not to be named, admitted he and his colleagues would not be able to stand their ground against the marauding militia.
“From what we hear from colleagues who were here before, if the raiders return, we will be no match for them,” he said.
The Pokomo and Orma communities have clashed for the past several years over land and grazing and water resources. The latest wave of violence, which kicked off last month, has already killed more than 100 people.
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki ordered a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the area after Monday’s attack.