ISIOLO, Kenya Jan 4 (Reuters) - Fighting over grazing land between two
communities in Kenya killed six people on Wednesday, including three
children, and has forced hundreds of families to flee, officials and aid
The clashes that flared up on Dec. 26 have engulfed several villages in
Kenya's far north near the border with Ethiopia, prompting authorities to
deploy security forces.
So far, more than 20 people, including the six on Wednesday, have been
killed in the towns of Moyale and Isiolo, and hundreds have been displaced.
"We have deployed security personnel but the two groups must stop fighting,
killing each other," said Issah Nakoru, the regional commissioner for Upper
Nakoru said three of the six were children, and did not give other details.
Aid workers said they had been unable to reach most of the villages because
the two groups drawn from the Gabra and Borana communities were still
engaged in fierce fighting.
"Hundreds of families have fled six villages in the Moyale town. We cannot
access them because fighting is going on. We believe more people have been
killed and many injured," said a worker with the Kenya Red Cross in the area
who did not wish to be identified.
Grazing land is highly valued by Kenya's pastoralist communities, and they
have often clashed in the past. Kenyan security forces struggle to keep
peace due to the vast, harsh terrain.
Residents said politicians were doing too little to stop the clashes.
"Some community leaders, both in Kenya and Ethiopia, are responsible for the
killing we are now witnessing in Moyale ... Our government is hopeless,
incapable or unwilling to arrest people who are behind these clashes," said
a resident of the Oda village who had been displaced by the fighting.
(Reporting by Noor Ali; Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Alessandra
E.Africa ministers want to expand troops in Somalia
Wed Jan 4, 2012 6:04pm GMT
By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA Jan 4 (Reuters) - East African defence ministers want the United
Nations to endorse a plan that boosts the size of an African Union force
trying to stabilise Somalia by including Kenyan troops, an AU official said
The ministers met in the Ethiopian capital to try to forge a strategy to
defeat the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group, which has been driven out of
the capital Mogadishu and is now facing a new front after Ethiopia joined
Kenya last week in unilaterally deploying troops.
Nairobi sent troops into the lawless Horn of Africa country last year
following a wave of cross-border attacks and kidnappings it blamed on the
The AU has a force of less than 10,000, known as AMISOM, made up of Ugandan
and Burundian soldiers and is largely responsible for preventing the
militants from taking over Somalia.
Djibouti last month sent in the first 100 of a planned deployment of 900
troops, and the inclusion of Kenyan troops would push the force to a total
of 17,700, the AU's Peace and Security Council head Ramtane Lamamra said.
"We have been working very closely on a new strategic concept that will take
on board the new situation on the ground," Lamamra told journalists on the
sidelines of the gathering.
"It means you will have an AMISOM with 17,700 soldiers. The main thing here
is Kenya will be rehatted and Djibouti will be a part of AMISOM," he said.
Part of the strategy is to also boost Somalia's security and police force to
try to shore up the peacekeepers' efforts, Lamamra added.
Another official told Reuters that AMISOM's mandate, currently limited to
Mogadishu, would be effectively expanded with Kenya's inclusion in the
force. Lamamra said the AU was scheduled to endorse the plan on Thursday.
"We will then go to New York to present it to the U.N. Security Council
which is likely to have a special session on this in the next few days," he
A Kenyan military source told Reuters that the key thing with the process
was for the United Nations to approve the expansion of the force, which was
capped at 12,000.
The United Nations is one of the funding agencies of the operation, the
Kenyan military source added.
Ethiopian troops captured rebel-held Beledweyne on Saturday, in a new front
against the militants who are seen as a threat to the region's stability.
Ethiopian soldiers previously went into Somalia in 2006, and left in early
2009 after pushing the Islamist Islamic Courts Union, the precursor of the
al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam rebels, out of Mogadishu.
At the time, most Somalis opposed the intervention and analysts said it may
have encouraged people to join the militants. This time, locals say public
opinion has largely turned against the militants.
Lamamra said Addis Ababa would withdraw its troops after helping Somali
government soldiers expand their reach in the country.
"There is a clear recommendation that Ethiopia is helping AMISOM and
(Somalia's) Transitional Federal Government to achieve certain strategic
results on the region," he said.
"Once that's done, AMISOM will take over (Ethiopia's role)." (Editing by
C Thomson Reuters 2012 All rights reserved
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Received on Wed Jan 04 2012 - 15:40:18 EST