KENYA: Four killed by cattle-rustlers in Marsabit

NAIROBI, 23 May (IRIN) -

At least four Kenyan civilians were killed on Monday when armed raiders attacked border villages in the violence-prone Marsabit District in northern Kenya, the local Red Cross reported.

"The raiders are suspected to be Ethiopian militia," police spokesman Gideon Kibunjah said, adding that the assailants had fled across the border while being pursued by Kenyan police.

The Kenya Red Cross Society's (KRCS) head of disaster response, Farid Abdulkadir, said three of the victims were killed during the raid and one died later from wounds sustained in the attack. Ten other people were wounded.

The raids were carried out in Dukana, Garwolle and Forole areas of Marsabit District, according to KRCS. The agency said that 1,200 heads of cattle were stolen and five people were abducted by the bandits.

On learning of the attack, KRCS sent two emergency teams from Marsabit town, one each to Dukana and Forole, to carry out an assessment and distribute food provided by the Kenyan government and nonfood items from the agency's relief stocks in Marsabit to people who fled their home after the raids.

The semi-arid Kenyan territory near the Ethiopian border has a history of banditry and cattle rustling among the region's pastoral communities, which often clash over pasture and water resources. Communities on both sides of the border have lost large numbers of livestock, their primary source of
livelihood, to the regional drought. The drive to replace dead herds of livestock by stealing animals from rival ethnic groups could fuel animosity and ignite clashes between communities, aid workers have warned.