MOMBASA, Kenya (Reuters) - Thirty-nine people, including several children, were killed in tribal violence in Kenya’s coastal Tana Delta region on Friday, police said, heightening security concerns ahead of next year’s presidential election.
Tribal fighting on the northern coast and deadly riots in the port city of Mombasa have raised fears that the March 2013 election in east Africa’s biggest economy will be marred again by violence and electoral abuses.
Police said Friday’s raid on a village appeared to have been a revenge attack after clashes in August between farmers from the Pokomo tribe and semi-nomadic Orma tribesmen, who have fought for years over access to grazing, farmland and water in the coastal region. They said six women and 13 children were among the dead and nine of the attackers were killed.
More than 100 people were killed in a series of attacks in the area in August and September.
“About 150 Pokomo raiders attacked Kipao village which is inhabited by the Ormas early on Friday. The Ormas appeared to have been aware and were prepared,” Robert Kitur, Coast Region deputy police chief, told reporters.
He said the raiders used firearms, spears, machetes and arrows, adding: “We have identified where the attackers came from and are pursuing them.”
Kenya Red Cross, which has a team on the ground treating the wounded, put the death toll at 30, including several children, with about 45 houses set on fire. Red Cross photographs posted on Twitter showed the injured being treated for serious cuts to the arms and head. One person had lost an arm.
Tourist numbers on the coast have tumbled over fears of a repeat of the ethnic violence that rocked Kenya after the disputed 2007 election.
Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by George Obulutsa and Janet Lawrence