Kenyan police say they have arrested 56 suspects in the wake of Friday's attack that left dozens of villagers dead. US President Barack Obama has called for an end to Kenya's strife ahead of elections due in March.
Police in Kenya's Tana River delta coastal region said Saturday some of the suspects were found with injuries sustained during the attack. Machetes, spears and an AK 47 rifle had also been recovered.
Early Friday, farmers of the Pokomo tribe raided Kipao, a village of the semi-nomadic Orma cattle herders. Regional deputy police chief Robert Kitur said six women and 13 children were among the 39 people killed.
For years the groups have fought over grazing lands, but human rights activists quoted by the news agency Reuters said the blame this time lay with politicians who had sought the eviction of locals they believed would vote for rivals in March.
"With historic elections approaching in March, peace and stability are essential to Kenya's continued progress," said Obama in a statement released by the White House. It urged Kenyan authorities as well as Orma and Pokomo tribal leaders to "bring an end to this deadly cycle of conflict."
During Kenya's 2007 national elections 1,200 people were killed and many thousands more were driven from their homes.
On instructions from Kenya President Mwai Kibaki, police have sent 200 additional paramilitary personnel to the delta region to disarm fighters.
Since late 2011, Kenya's vital tourism industry has been damaged by kidnappings and grenade attacks by Somali extremists opposed to Kenya's intervention in Somalia against al-Qaeda linked Shebab insurgents.
ipj/lw (AFP, dpa, Reuters)
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