From: Antony Gitonga, Associated Press
Published February 24, 2005 12:00 AM

Tribal Clashes over Water and Land in Central Kenya Leaves at Least Four Dead

NAIVASHA, Kenya — Maasai tribal fighters clashed with police after attacking rivals from the Kikuyu tribe Wednesday and at least four people were killed, the latest deaths in a monthlong dispute over scarce water and grazing land in central Kenya, officials said.


Police shot at some 20 Maasai fighters who were burning Kikuyu homes Mai Mahiu, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) northwest of Nairobi, said a lawmaker from Naivasha, Jayne Kihara. Three Maasai were killed, she said.


But Simon Kiragu, police chief of Naivasha, near where the fighting took place, said police only shot and killed two Maasai who were part of a group that fired arrows at officers because they felt the police were taking sides in the conflict with Kikuyu. Two Kikuyu men were killed by Maasai fighters, he said.


It was not clear if Kihara and Kiragu were referring to same incident or separate clashes.


Kiragu said police have arrested 36 people in connection with the violence.


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There have been sporadic clashes between Maasai and Kikuyu for nearly a month, and Wednesday, Saroiji, a Maasai man who goes by a single name, said the dispute was over water from a nearby river.


But a Kikuyu man, James Kamama, said the conflict broke out after largely Kikuyu farmers began sowing their land in preparation for coming rains. The Maasai, most of them herders, feared they would have no grazing land for their cows, goats and sheep, he said.


"The government has downplayed the whole thing and if there is no quick action there will be more deaths," said Kihara, the lawmaker.


At least 16 people were killed in Jan. 29 clashes between the Maasai and Kikuyu.


Source: Associated Press


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