Two killed, dozens wounded at ritual killing at Kenya-Ethiopian border

June 18th, 2009 | by addis portal |

KAKUMA, Kenya, June 18 (Xinhua) — Suspected Ethiopian warriors killed two Kenyans and wounded 14 others on Wednesday night in a ritual killing barely a fortnight when deadly clashes between Merrile and Turkana tribesmen killed dozens others along the common frontier.     Survivors and officials said on Thursday that hundreds of Merrile youths aged between 13 and 18 are queued for a circumcision ritual between this month and August and cultural dictates that they exhibit braveness by killing an enemy before being circumcised.

    Once they kill, they chop off private parts and other organs oftheir victims, including ears, noses and toes, which they carry away and present as a sign of bravery.

    And on Wednesday night, Merrile initiates from Namurupus area, Southern Zone travelled over 40 km inside Kenya and indiscriminately fired at a dancing crowd during Wednesday night attack at Kokuro village.

    “The Turkana villagers were dancing ‘Edunga’ (a respected and popular traditional dance) when the intruders attacked at 23:00 (2000 GMT) and opened fire killing two and injured several others,” said JacK Obuo, the Turkana North District Commissioner.

    The villagers were caught off guard as they were busy jumped up and danced before they could retire to bed.

    The Edunga dance purposely is used as an occasion for men to lobby and hunt for women to marry and usually is conducted at night due to high heat during the day.

    “We were about 200 people busy dancing and everybody was happy with the occasion when the gun shots were heard from all directions. But I thank God I’m that I’m alive,” narrated a survivor Ekiru Lokale recuperating from bullet wounds at Lodwar District Hospital.

    Lokale said the assailants were repulsed when local Police reservists (home guards) were alerted and challenged them in a gunbattle.

    The assailants were unable to chop off their victim’s organs which they must present no casualty was reported from the attackers’ side during the attack that last few minutes.

    “They Merrile treked over 40 km inside Kenya and ambushed the villagers intentionally to kill and many could have died were not the immediate response from the police reserve,” added the DC.

    Government official and rescue workers evacuated the injured people to Lodwar hospital nearly 400 km away from the attacked remote village.

    Obuo could not confirm the number of the attackers but villagers put at 50 youthful boys who were armed with assault rifles.

    The official said home guards have been supplied with enough ammunition to protect the villagers from ritual attacks.

    Nearly 35 people were killed a fortnight ago in revenge fighting between the two communities over cattle raids and fishing row.

    The clashes were elicited with theft claims of fishing nets by the Turkana fishermen at River Omo and Lake Turkana delta.

    Cattle raids and row over fishing territories are common at Todonyang and hostilities have continued to hamper fishing activity, a major source for living for the two tribes.

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