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One feared dead in Kitengela ethnic clashes

One person is feared to have died while scores were injured as hawkers from different ethnic groups fought over a market in Kitengela Town.

Police were called in to quell the violence as the traders went for each other with all manner of weapons, including stones, sticks and rungus.

The violence, which raged for several hours, brought business to a standstill and motorists were unable to use the Nairobi-Namanga road.

Regular police had a tough time containing the groups and they only dispersed when the GSU arrived hours later.

Scores of youth were bundled into police lorries as the situation came under control.

A hawker, Mr Peter Kimani, said the Maasai wanted other communities to leave the market and yet some have been trading there for over 15 years.

“We were supposed to share stalls equally but the Maasai demanded all of them for themselves. That is when the fighting broke out,” he said.

BIRTHRIGHT

Mr Kimani said members of other ethnic groups who owned stalls were being chased by the Maasai who view Kitengela as their birthright.

A Maasai trader however claimed men on motorbikes had attacked Maasai women and chased them from the market, triggering the fighting.

Tension was still high in the area last evening with dozens of GSU officers in riot gear keeping a sharp eye on the situation.

There were reports that several stalls belonging to the Maasai were demolished by angry members of other communities, which was likely to lead to revenge attacks.

Residents also said a man had been shot dead by a civilian armed with a pistol but the reports could not be verified.

REFURBISHED

Kajiado Deputy County Commissioner David Kipkemei said no injuries or deaths had been reported but a medic at Kitengela Medical Services Hospital said scores of injured people had been treated there.

“Many people came with soft tissue injuries and were treated and discharged. One was admitted with serious head injuries and a policeman who sustained a fractured leg was transferred to another hospital,” he said without stating the exact number.

Trouble has been simmering at the market after the county government asked traders to move out so that it could be refurbished.

When the traders returned to the market, disputes arose over allocation of the stalls.

Neither Kajiado Governor David Nkedianye or Members of the County Assembly were available to defuse the tension, leading to fears there might be political undertones to the violence.