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Tribal conflict in Kenya leaves more than 180 dead

TANA RIVER DELTA, Kenya — The first attacks began a year ago, pitting semi-nomadic Orma cattle herders against Pokomo maize farmers. There were a handful of deaths but nothing out of the ordinary in this baking hot corner of Kenya, where competition for that most precious resource — water — is fierce.

The government did nothing as the ferocity and body counts of the tit-for-tat raids escalated: six dead in August, 54 a few weeks later, then 11, then 39 (including nine police officers). Finally the authorities stepped in, a curfew was imposed and the raids stopped, for a while.

In December they began again: 32 Orma were killed in the village of Kipao just before Christmas. A few weeks ago, 11 Pokomo were killed in Kibusu.

The toll is now more than 180, according to human rights groups. During the attacks women and children — some just babies — have been disproportionately targeted.

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