The African Union is calling for a speedy investigation into the ethnic violence in southeast Kenya's Tana River District (Coast province) that has so far claimed 50 lives. The outbreak began Aug. 22, when some 100 members of the Pokomo people raided Reketa village, inhabited by members of the Orma group. Among those hacked to death were 31 women, 11 children and eight men. The attack was apparently prompted when members of the pastoral Orma strayed into lands claimed by Pokomo farmers. While Pokomo accuse the Orma of allowing livestock to encroach onto their farms and destroy their crops, the Orma complain that Pokomo farmlands encroach on their traditional grazing lands on the banks of the Tana River, and prevent herders from using the river to water their cattle. (Xinhua, Capital FM, Nairobi, via AllAfrica, The Star, Nairobi, Aug. 23; CBC, IRIN, Aug. 22)
Even as a measure of stability at last comes to Mogadishu, a push by UN-backed African Union troops on the last bastion of Somalia's al-Shabab insurgency has already added to the country's civilian casualties, and there are fears that more may lie ahead as air, ground and naval operations in the strategic city escalate. The latest, and most senior, person to raise the alarm over the actions of the Kenyan Defence Forces (KDF), which officially operate under the banner of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), was UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Mark Bowden. "I am deeply concerned by recent reports of civilian casualties in Kismayo caused by naval gunfire and airstrikes," Bowden said in a statement issued on Aug. 14. "As fighting for control of the town appears imminent, I reiterate my call for all parties to the conflict to make every effort to minimize the impact of conflict on civilians and to allow full humanitarian access to all people in need," he said.