Following a series of retaliatory attacks pitting Somali and Borana herders in Garbatula Sub county of Isiolo County that have led to death of at least 10 people within a period of two months, Somali elders have come out to condemn the forceful entrance of herders from Lagdera in Garissa County in search of water and pasture, terming the move as the main cause of the conflict.
On Friday Morning, bandits believed to be from Banane in Lagdera attacked residents of Duse Market in Garbatula, leading to death of five people, including a child and a middle-aged woman. Three of the attackers also lost their lives following a fire exchange with Kenya Police Reservists manning Duse area.
This latest attack has raised tension in the region with any revenge attacks poised to further escalate the situation as Kenyans gear up for the upcoming campaign period and subsequent general election.
Led by Isiolo county deputy governor Mohamed Guleid, Somali elders have now condemned the attacks and called upon the two sides to cease fire in order to create room for fruitful engagements that will lead to a lasting solution. Mr Guleid said that drought situations always come and go but the two communities had always lived in peace with each other. He however desisted from linking the conflict to political incitement.
Somali Council of elders’ vice chairman Abdulkadir Shariff Abdullahi called upon the herders from Garissa County to respect the laid down grazing rules set by elders from all the pastoralist communities. He urged all herders to desist from encroaching on others’ grazing areas forcefully and instead seek permission through the respective grazing committees to avoid hostility from the hosts.
On the other hand, Mr Abdullahi asked the host Borana community to exercise tolerance and await an appropriate settlement of the conflict through elders.
The state of insecurity in the area has worsened during the last two months with the elders relating it to the persistent drought situation within the northern frontier districts. Isiolo County has been subject to an influx of herders from the neighbouring Garissa, Wajir, Marsabit and Samburu Counties due to reserve pastures as a result of proper resource utilization with strict regulation of grazing patterns imposed by the Borana elders.
Guleid said that the situation will get better with onset of the much awaited short rains.
The County security team, elders from both sides and the Northern Rangelands Trust are expected to hold peace meetings in the area to avert further retaliatory attacks and help restore peace along the Isiolo-Garissa border.