MOMBASA, Kenya, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- Death toll in renewed inter- clan clashes in Tana Delta in southeast Kenya has risen to 28 amid tension between the two feuding communities in the coastal region.
Regional deputy police commander, Robert Kitur expressed fears the death toll could rise further as search for more bodies are continuing in the clash hit area.
He said armed militia attacked a village of Orma community killed 19, including men and children, and torched five houses.
He said nine of the militia from the Pokomo community were also killed in the 5:00 a.m. (0200 GMT) raid. "We believe the attackers were ferried from outside the Tana Delta to carry out the attacks, " Kitur told Xinhua by telephone.
"We have deployed more police officers to the area to pursue the attackers who were also injured during the ambush," he added.
The East African nation is grappling with sporadic conflicts in the Tana Delta in southeast region and its northern part as communities fight over water and pasture.
Tension and rivalry between Pokomo and Orma communities which have been ongoing for decades resulted into the death of 120 people and over 5,000 displacements since August.
The most recent clashes started mid August when members of the pastoral community, Orma invaded farms belonging to the Pokomo. The attack prompted the Pokomo to retaliate by attacking Orma huts early on Aug. 22, killing 52 people.
The violence in August and September was the culmination of smaller-scale attacks, cattle raids and counterattacks since January between the ethnic Pokomo and Orma communities.
Both communities have lost lives and livestock, but police either failed to respond to the attacks, or arrested people and then released them without investigations.
On Friday, the regional deputy police commander said there was no arrest as a contingent of police officers have been deployed in the area.
Reports from the area indicate that the politicians could be behind the attacks to incite ethic clashes between the two warring community of Orma and Pokomo.
"We area appealing for peaceful coexistence among the two community, police alone cannot restore peace in the area," Kitur stressed.
Livestock herding is the main livelihood and source of income in northern and some parts of eastern Kenya, and the hike in cattle thefts threatens to ignite cross-community reprisals and raids that could set the stage for a surge in ethnic fighting in the region.
While the Pokomo accuses the Orma of allowing livestock to encroach on their farms and destroy their crops, the Orma complains that Pokomo farmlands are too close to the banks of the Tana River and prevent the herders from using the river to water their cattle.
Clashes between the rival cattle herding pastoralists in the region are common, with herders often carrying guns to protect their animals, but the recent fighting has been unusually heavy.