Isaiah Nakoru, Marsabit County Commissioner, said on Monday that the number of those killed and injured in the renewed inter-tribal clashes was still not clear and some of the families that fled into Ethiopia were vulnerable groups that included women, children and the aged.
“The clashes started on Sunday and we have not established the number of those killed or displaced but tension is high in the area.”
He, however, confirmed that hundreds of people had fled the area due to the fighting but assured that the police would restore peace and order in the trouble town.
Nakoru said the government had deployed contingent of security officials to battle it out with the militias in the region which has been experiencing one of the worst continued inter-clan feuds.
He said the police and the Kenya defence forces will also use choppers to locate the militias and flush them out of the region.
“We have hundreds of officers now patrolling the border areas to seal their escape routes in order to apprehend them,” he said.
Diba Huka, a villager from Gurumesa, attributed to deep seated issues that outweigh the inter-communal crisis previously believed to have been worsened by cattle rustling and dispute over pasture and fuelled by historical land differences.
He said the families were forced to flee after the fighting intensified with a section of groups using mortars and sophisticated arms to attack and loot shops and homes.
“We could not establish the number of those killed or injured because everybody was struggling to get out of the villages to Ethiopia,” He said.
“The Kenyans in Moyale started moving into Ethiopia on Sunday after clashes that saw gun battles rage throughout the night.”
Analysts said the feuding pastoralist communities in Kenya’s north and southeast where recent clashes have been occurring have easy access to illegal weapons since the regions are close to porous borders with neighbouring countries that are either war-torn or are emerging from conflict.
It said the conflict over natural resources, especially access and utilisation of the waters of the River Tana, has been contentious for a while, leading to frequent clashes by pastoralists and farmers in the county.
Also the relief agencies said political competition for positions in the newly restructured seats in the legislature and administrative posts which were created in a new constitution that Kenya adopted in 2010 is causing the violence.