A gun fight between Turkana and Samburu herders left several people dead and many others injured. The incident took place at Mulango, about 30km west of Isiolo town.
Elders from both sides said 14 people were killed in the Wednesday night fight but authorities confirmed five deaths.
The gun battle lasted for about five hours when an estimated 70 attackers from Samburu attacked their rivals who sought help from the police and reservists.
The injured, including a police reservist, were admitted to various private hospitals in Isiolo and Meru.
Government hospitals could not admit the wounded due to the ongoing nurses’ strike.
County Commissioner George Natembeya said police recovered five bodies from the scene, making it the official death toll.
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He said about 70 bandits believed to be from Samburu attacked villagers and an Administration Police (AP) post during the raid and made away with livestock.
Independent reports indicated the attackers lost six fighters while the villagers had eight casualties. But police said the raiders lost three and the locals two.
Mr Natembeya said police were able to recover more than 100 animals that had been stolen with about half the number still at large.
The administrator, however, said more raiders might have been killed in the incident.
“The bandits were heavily armed and they also attacked an AP post. We are still investigating whether the incident was the usual rustling or something else,” he said.
Some of the attackers, police said, were from Archers Post and Westgate in Samburu County and they shared the stolen animals. The attacked are from Kipsing village.
Locals said the raid was political pointing fingers to differences between the two sides who support rival sides in Isiolo politics.
“The Turkana and Samburu have differences and they voted different ways during the Jubilee primaries. This is not cattle rustling, it is politicians doing their bloody dirty work,” said a local observer.
The killings come in the wake of last month’s clashes between Samburu and Borana along the Isiolo-Samburu border that left 16 people dead.