Death, destruction as Luos and Nandis fight
Three people were killed on Friday and schools closed indefinitely as communities living on the border of Kisumu and Nandi Counties clashed over rampant cattle theft.
Tension remained high at the border of the two counties at Kibigori the whole day as the two sides battled one another leaving three other people injured.
Chemase and Kibigori areas were the worst hit; a situation that also left some of the members of the conflicting groups with serious injuries as a result of being shot by arrows.
Several schools were also closed and pupils advised to stay at home as the fight between the Kalenjin and Luo youth escalated.
Youth wielding bows and arrows, slings, makeshift shields, machetes and spears engaged in a confrontation at the sugar plantations while police officers deployed to quell the situation seemed to have been overwhelmed.
Sounds of wailing women rented the air as the men chanted war slogans daring one another to press on with the fight; several acres of sugarcane and a houses were also torched.
Residents of the area say the problem started on Friday mid-morning after youth from Kisumu went to recover some five animals that were stolen on Thursday night.
The residents accused the government of inaction over the problem that has dogged the area for some time.
Mr Elijah Misiara told Nation.co.ke at the scene that more than eight animals were driven from the Kisumu side towards the hills that straddle Nandi County.
“We have been experiencing theft of cattle here for the past few weeks. But yesterday was the worst as they even stole dairy animals,” he said.
“Youths from this area (Oroba) then went to recover the animals but failed. They then decided to take the animals of the other group who launched retaliatory attacks on us,” Mr Misiara said.
The elderly resident of Kibigori said their counterparts from Nandi have been stealing their cattle but they have never been keen to follow them owing to the sensitivity of such pursuits.
“Even today, our assistant chief ordered that we return the cows which we did but our brothers have kept fighting us since morning. For us, we don’t want trouble with anyone and we call upon our leaders to intervene for peace’s sake,” Mr Misiara said.
However, Kisumu county commissioner John Elungata gave a conflicting information while he addressed the press saying that they were only aware of two people being killed following the scuffle.
“There have been hostilities in this region. We are asking both sides of the administrative divide to cool down their people and focus on peace building,” he said.
“This area is divided by an imaginary boundary therefore we will work round the clock to ensure that the situation is contained before it gets uglier,” said Mr Elungata.
He said the operation by security officers will continue until the groups are driven away to their respective homes.
“We have been careful not to make arrests as we are yet to identify the perpetrators; patrols will continue as long as the area remains volatile,” Mr Elungata said.
An elderly man from Kisumu side made a wild claim in an accusation than an MCA from Nandi area facilitated the other group.
“The MCA supplied the other side with water and foodstuffs. We strongly believe that it is him who has incited our neighbours against us,” he said.