Manyara MACHAKOS (Xinhua) --
At least three people were slashed to death while 20
others were injured on Friday in clashes between two
groups over a piece of land in Athi River, about 20 km
east of Nairobi.
Machakos Police Commander
Samuel Mukinda said the injured sustained serious wounds
in the clashes that lasted the better part of Friday
pitting local youths and a group of about 200 who had
been brought there to occupy the land.
Mukinda said police moved in and arrested 100 youths
involved in the fighting as part of efforts to contain
the situation. At least 40 houses were demolished by
unknown assailants in a dawn raid at the disputed piece
"We have arrested about 100 youths over these
skirmishes and we are hunting for more," said Mukinda.
Witnesses said that over 200 youths were ferried from
Nairobi in buses early Friday before they demolished
houses and setting others on fire.
The land is vast and is claimed by many groups but
authorities said it belongs to East Africa Portlands
Cement. The groups were armed with machetes, bows and
arrows as they confronted each other for hours.
Land issues are emotive in the East African nation
and the violence coming ahead of the August elections
threatens peace at large.
More police officers were mobilized to the scene as
the violence escalated affecting traffic flow on the
main Nairobi-Mombasa Highway.
The fighting comes after the country’s third largest
cement maker by market share announced in November last
year plans to sell part of its 13,000 acres to help it
return to profitability.
However, residents in some of the areas where the
company proposed to dispose of parcels of land it owns
want to be given first priority in the planned sale.
The company plans to raise about 80 million U.S.
dollars from the proposed transaction.