Government Blamed for Massacre in Kenya

NAIROBI -- The Kenyan Government was blamed yesterday for the recent massacre that displaced at least 6,000 people and left dozens dead in the northern Kenyan district of Marsabit.

Members of Parliament Titus Ngoyoni (Laisamis) and Abdi Sasura (Saku) blamed the Marsabit District and Eastern provincial security committees for Tuesday's killings at Torbi in North Horr Constituency.

The legislators were speaking in Isiolo shortly after arriving from a peace meeting held at Merti in Isiolo North Constituency where they discussed ways to stop the fighting between Marsabit herdsmen who migrated to Isiolo in search of pasture.

They said Tuesday's massacre would not have occurred if the Government had taken action on all the previous incidents of insecurity.

Ngoyoni said both the police and the provincial administration personnel in the district and province were downplaying the security situation to protect their jobs.

"They were obsessed with denial that people have been attacked and killed. When leaders tip them of impending attacks they are dubbed as inciters," Ngoyoni said.

The presence of the government in the vast district, the MPs said, is only felt when a massacre of Tuesday's magnitude occurs.

The MPs called for a thorough investigation into the killings and all the previous incidents and the arrest of the perpetrators, who allegedly include civil servants and NGO officials.

The MPs said even Eastern PC John Nandasaba who visited the area and ordered the residents to return stolen animals and compensate those killed, came for a public relations exercise and not to solve the problem.

"He downplayed the killing of the chief and the home guard who were killed while on duty. The residents were angered by his attitude," Sasura said.

Meanwhile, the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) yesterday blamed politicians for the incidents of violence in Marsabit District and urged the Government to apprehend the culprits.

The church also rejected the use of violence in the Mau forest eviction against defenseless members of the public, and asked the Government to offer alternative land for resettling the evicted.

Addressing a news conference in Nairobi, Anglican Primate Benjamin Nzimbi said the Marsabit killing was a heinous act that should be condemned.

"We condemn these acts of banditry on innocent, law- abiding Kenyans and call upon the Government to immediately arrest the perpetrators of this heinous crime," said Nzimbi.

The Bishop of Kirinyaga Diocese, the Rev Daniel Munene Ngoru whose jurisdiction covers Marsabit District, and the Provincial Secretary, Bishop William Waqo, also spoke during the function.

Ngoru said some of his church officials from Gabbra, Rendile and Boran communities working in the district had raised concerns over increased ethnic tensions and even moved out to other areas.

And members of the East African Legislative Assembly yesterday condoled the families and relatives of those killed in Marsabit.

Assembly Speaker Abraham Kinara and members said the killings were regrettable and a sad day for the people of the East African region.

Speaking to reporters at Kabarak Airport in Nakuru after a courtesy call on retired President Moi, the members said they were saddened that the killings occurred less than a week after they visited Marsabit.

Kinara, speaking on behalf of the 27 members, said they had noted the tensions between the communities, but were surprised that they erupted into such vicious violence that killed innocent people.

"We wish quick recovery to the victims and pray to God for the souls of those who lost their lives," he said after a two-hour closed door meeting with Moi in his home.

Moi did not speak to the press, but a Kenyan member of the Legislative Assembly who comes from Marsabit, Gen (rtd) Aden Abdulrahi, said he was deeply concerned.

The former Kenya Army soldier said the violence witnessed in the incident was fuelled by the culture of retaliation whenever one community feels aggrieved.

At the same time, Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organization yesterday condemned the Marsabit massacre.

National chairperson Zipporah Kittony and said it was scaring to think foreigners came into the country undetected and freely killed people.

Kittony wondered how it was possible for people from another country to easily cross to Kenya. She asked the Government to take measures to curb these unnecessary deaths. She said the emerging banditry trend should be curbed immediately.