Livestock battle leaves 38 nomads dead

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The Independent Online

A battle for livestock between Ethiopian and Kenyan nomads has left 38 people dead in drought-stricken northern Kenya, official and aid workers said today.

Dongiro warriors crossed into Kenya last Friday and attacked Turkana herdsmen in order to steal their animals, said Njenga Miiri, the district commissioner for Turkana. The fighting killed 30 of the raiders and eight Kenyans, all of them women and children.

The clashes took place in the remote village of Lokamarinyang, along the Kenya-Ethiopia border and 260 miles north of Lodwar, area aid worker Lucas Ariong said.

News of the battle only reached the regional capital this morning, nearly a week later.

Cattle rustling by nomadic tribes in the semiarid region that encompasses northern Kenya, Uganda, southern Sudan and Ethiopia is common, and the tribes in the area do not respect national borders.

A drought that has left 11.5 million people in the area, most of them nomads, in need of water and livestock has exacerbated tensions between the tribes.

Miiri said the young warriors, who recently had undergone a ritual marking their transition into adulthood, were from the Naita area of southern Ethiopia and were carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles. He said they were apparently trying to demonstrate their bravery by raiding a Turkana settlement to steal 300 cows and goats.

Turkana warriors pursued the Dongiro men and eventually caught up with them, killed 30 of the raiders and took back their livestock, Miiri said. Kenyan police and soldiers had been dispatched to the area, he said.

Aid workers have expressed concern that as water sources dry up and livestock begin to die because of the drought, such attacks will become more common.

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