Meru-Isiolo border clashes leaves hundreds displaced

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By KEN BETT
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By VIVIAN JEBET
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About 1,000 people were displaced in Igembe Central following deadly clashes along the Meru-Isiolo boundary on Monday.

Kenya Red Cross Central regional manager Gitonga Mugambi had earlier put the figure at 3,000.

The government, however, disputed the Red Cross figure and said the displaced had gone back to their homes.

Ten people were killed on Monday during the violence, while three people are at the Maua Methodist Hospital nursing gunshot wounds.

The Nation on Tuesday found hundreds of residents camping at Kathithine Primary School.

The school chairman, Mr Patrick Kenya, on Tuesday said they would spend their second night in the institution’s compound.

Mr Kenya also said he had recorded 879 people, mostly women and children, who had fled their homes after a sustained gunfight and burning of houses in Kinna-duba.

Isiolo County Commissioner George Natembeya and his Meru counterpart Wilfred Nyagwangwa said the situation was now calm, adding that security had been boosted.

“After visiting the Kinna Police Station today (Tuesday), I can confirm that the situation is calm.

Police officers have been deployed to the area to prevent further retaliatory attacks,” said Mr Natembeya.

Ruins of a house that was torched in Mpeketoni Village in Igembe Central on July 10, 2017. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Residents watch ruins of a house that was torched in Mpeketoni Village in Igembe Central on July 10, 2017. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

He disputed the number of displaced people given by the Red Cross.

He added that the government was looking for support for the affected individuals.

Mr Nyangwanga said the 10  people were killed by bandits, who should not be associated with any community.

He said the government will open a police station in Mpeketoni village to avert attacks, adding that efforts were being made to recover stolen animals.

“Bandits want to scare villagers to flee their homes so that they can have an opportunity to loot. I want to tell those thieves that the government will deal with them squarely,” Mr Nyangwanga said after holding a peace meeting in Mpeketoni village.

The meeting was also attended by Igembe Central MP Kubai Kiringo.

Mr Kiringo praised the government for its efforts to bring sanity to the area.

He asked leaders not to politicise the killings and urged the residents who fled the volatile border to return home, saying their safety was assured.

Residents who spoke to the Nation in Ndukai, Gitwee and Mpeketoni villages accused the government of neglect.

Some of the residents, who were armed with bows and arrows, said  they are attacked year in, year out, without the government providing a permanent solution to the problem.

They said their children were out of school because of the violence.

They said they had asked the government in vain to send police reservists to the area.

“The only thing the government helps us with is collecting the bodies of our loved ones,” said Mr Isaiah Mwiti .

Another resident, Mr Peter Mbuki said he had incurred a loss of Sh150,000 after his shop was looted.

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