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Retaliatory attacks by Somali herders push locals in Kitui to the forest in fright



NAIROBI—Victims of  the  latest  deadly attack in Kitui East and Kitui South regions are still spending cold nights in the forests after fleeing their homes a fortnight ago, fearing for their lives.

The tribal clashes flared up after locals killed livestock, an act that caused retaliation from the Somali herders who were pushed up South by the biting drought in Garissa and Tana River counties.

The over 200 families, including school children, are stranded in makeshift camps at Imuumba in remote Kitui East and Mutha Catholic Church in Kitui South.

The locals fled their homes in Mutha, Kalamba, Kyeni, Musenge, Inyale and Imuumba villages on September 8 after the Somali bandits, masquerading as camel herdsmen, unleashed terror on them, killing two men and injuring scores others.

Tension was high, after the attackers allegedly beheaded a middle-aged-man at his home in Musenge village, while another man succumbed to spear wounds to the ribs at Mutomo Mission Hospital.

The distraught residents also said the IDPs are struggling with lack of decent shelter as well as basic needs like food, water and healthcare services.

“We left our homes with nothing and here we have no source of income to fend for our families. We are depending on humanitarian aid from well-wishers who visit us from time to time,” he said.

Faith Vaati from Kyeni village in Mutha Ward said they could not return home or have their children go back to school because it was not yet safe.

“All the schools around here have been closed and some of our children are candidates in Class Eight and Form Four. We fear if the situation persists they may be unable to sit for their exams,” she regretted.

Speaking in Mutha on Sunday, when she donated food and clothing to the IDPs, Kitui County MP, Dr. Irene Kasalu called upon the national government to abolish the illegal settlement within the South Kitui Game Reserve which also serves as the bandits’ hideout.

“We want the State to flush out all illegal inhabitants within the South Kitui Game Reserve who have been terrorizing and even killing the locals adjacent to the protected area so that out people can live in peace,” Kasalu emphasized.


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