Scores of villagers are reported to have been killed in a night attack on a village in Tana River County, in an alleged retaliation of an earlier attack.
Kenya Red Cross sources estimated the number of the dead at “between 30 and 50”, insisting that the exact figure would only be confirmed once its team reaches the remote Reketa village, tucked in the Tana Delta part of the County.
A villager who talked to the Nation also gave the same estimate but pointed out that many other people mainly children could still not be accounted for.
“We have counted more than 50 bodies. But 13 children children are still missing and we think they have either been kidnapped or have drowned in the river,” Mr Hajir Daud Imani, a resident of Reketa told the Daily Nation in a telephone interview.
Mr Sadique Kakai, KRC’s head of disaster in Coast region, while confirming the attack, said: “We have reports that the dead range between 30 and 50. We will let you know once we get the exact figure.”
He said a team of Red Cross officials in a convoy of five vehicles have been dispatched to the village to help the injured as they ascertain the magnitude of the attack and the casualties.
Coast police chiefs contacted earlier in the day remained tight-lipped about the whole incident and later could not be reached for comment as they went in for a meeting with the provincial commissioner Mr Samuel Kilele.
But addressing journalists at his office, Mr Kilele declined to confirm the number of the dead and other casualties saying he had not received a report from the ground.
He described the incident as a revenge attack, fuelled by a sense of arrogance and chest-thumping by the antagonistic communities which undermined commitment to past peace accords.
“The police we sent to the ground have not managed to reach the village as the area is swampy and had to take an alternative route. Until I get their report, I do not want to speculate on the numbers,” he told journalists.
The attack, which is viewed as retaliation, comes in the wake of last week’s skirmishes in which three villagers were killed and six injured after Orma herdsmen attacked Pokomo villagers.
The attack occurred after herds of cattle owned by the Orma strayed into Pokomo farmlands wreaking havoc on crops. The farmers attacked the herdsmen and slashed some of their animals.
The herdsmen regrouped and mounted an attack on a Pokomo village, killing the three villagers, razed their homes and also shot dead over 100 herds of cattle.
Following the incident, the PC and his security team visited the area and gave a one-week ultimatum to the pastoralists to surrender the guns they illegally possess.
This morning the PC that police would now move in and confiscate the firearms.