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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Kenya-Ethiopia border violence kills at least 19

MARSABIT, Kenya, July 8 (Reuters) - At least 19 people have died in cross-border raids by Ethiopian bands and counter-attacks from Kenyan forces in violence apparently started by cattle-rustling, authorities said on Saturday.

The latest flare-up in Kenya's remote and lawless north -- notorious for banditry and fights between pastoralists over scarce resources -- began on Wednesday at Eladi village.

By Saturday, Kenyan security forces had killed 14 Ethiopian raiders, while four local villagers and a police reservist had also died in clashes, district commissioner Mutea Iringo said.

"More bodies were discovered in the bush by the police on Friday evening," he said of the growing death-toll from yet another bout of violence on Kenya's porous borders.

Iringo said cattle-rustling was probably at the heart of this week's violence in the northern Marsabit region.

"These Ethiopian militiamen may be on a revenge mission as their Kenyan counterparts may have stolen livestock from them in the past," he said.

"Those whose animals were stolen must revenge even if it takes them 10 years to do so ... We must seek ways of reconciling these communities on each side of the border."

A recent drought across east Africa has exacerbated hunger and decimated livestock in remote areas such as north Kenya, provoking an upsurge in clashes between herders.
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