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At least 10 people were killed and several wounded in a retaliatory dawn raid on Thursday in the Tana River delta region of south-east Kenya, the latest violence to flare up in an area where scores died in clashes in 2012, Kenya Red Cross said.
“There are 10 dead and two critically wounded, with gunshot wounds, machete cuts and burns,” local Red Cross official Caleb Kilunde told AFP.
The attack came a day after nine were killed in a raid.
Violence in the region first erupted in August, pitting the Pokomo farming community against their Orma pastoralist neighbours and leading to a series of vicious reprisal killings and attacks that left more than 150 people dead.
The repeated outbreaks of violence also raises concerns over security and a lack of police capacity in volatile areas ahead of elections due on March 4, with police investigating local politicians for alleged involvement in the unrest.
Regional police chief Aggrey Adoli confirmed the renewed violence, admitting that there was “a problem in the area”, and that tensions were high.
Thursday's attacks on the Pokomo village of Kibusu, which also left 19 homes burnt, follows a dawn attack on Wednesday by over 100 raiders on the Orma village of Nduru, in which nine people died.
The two villages are approximately 20 kilometres from each other, with Kibusu lying just five kilometres from a police road block.
Large numbers of security forces were deployed in the region following attacks in 2012, but the clashes have still continued.
The two communities have clashed in the past, violence that has often been attributed to disputes over water and grazing rights.
But the scale and intensity of recent killings - with women and children hacked to death or torched in their huts - have shocked many, with some locals accusing politicians of fuelling the attacks.
In December at least 45 people were killed in one attack.
The upcoming March 4 elections are for the presidency and parliament, as well as for regional gubernatorial posts and local councils. The run-up to the vote has been marked by renewed tensions both at the national political and grassroots levels.
Elections five years ago descended into deadly post-poll killings that shattered Kenya's image as a beacon of regional stability, with at least 1 100 people killed and more than 600 000 displaced. - Sapa-AFP