NAIROBI, Kenya – A raid by hundreds of Ethiopian bandits on a remote village in northern Kenya (search), and reprisals by tribesmen and Kenyan security forces, left at least 71 people dead, including more than two dozen children, police said Wednesday
Armed with guns and spears, the bandits attacked villagers in Turbi, a remote area of Kenya about 350 miles northeast of the capital, Nairobi, on Tuesday killing 45 civilians and stealing thousands of farm animals, police spokesman Jaspher Ombati said Wednesday.
The Roman Catholic Information Service said at least 52 villagers were killed.
The assailants hacked to death and slashed the throats of at least two dozen children at a boarding school in the village, while most of the adults were shot, said medical workers at Wilson Airport, where 10 critically injured victims were being flown to Nairobi (search) for treatment.
The attackers lingered the entire day in the village, shooting and hacking anyone on sight because security forces were slow to respond, according to the Catholic Information Service. Wounded survivors wept or held their heads in anguish as they were carried out of an air ambulance.
"They shot me on this arm and the right thigh," Bati Duba, 33, said while lifting her right arm to show a bullet hole, with visible tendons.
Kenyan security forces pursued the bandits, who numbered between 300 and 500, and killed 16 of them, the deputy Eastern Province police chief, Gerald Oluoch, said in a police report seen by The Associated Press. The security forces also recovered 5,000 sheep and 200 cattle.
In an apparent reprisal, men believed to be from the Gabra tribe killed 10 members of the rival Borana tribe Wednesday as they were being driven to a seminar in Marsabit, 250 miles northeast of Nairobi, Ombati said.
Rev. Aldrin J. Anito, an Italian priest, was driving them when he found the road blocked by stones, Ombati said.
The men at the roadblock asked Anito what tribe the passengers belonged to. On hearing they were Boranas, the attackers killed the 10 passengers — two men, four women and four children — with crude weapons, Ombati said in a statement. The priest was unhurt.
Ombati said security forces interpreted the killings as a revenge attack but he did not explain the link to the raid by Ethiopian bandits.
Said Wabera, a Gabra from the northern Marsabit district where the attacks occurred, said the Ethiopian bandits were Boranas as well, which could have the reason for the attacks. Boranas and Gabras live both in Ethiopia and Kenya.
"Small raids occur between us, but the killings yesterday were the biggest," Aden Mohamed, 55, said at Wilson airport while waiting to see relatives who were among the critically injured.
President Mwai Kibaki condemned the attacks and appealed for calm in brief remarks sent by the Presidential Press Service.
Ombati said no arrests have been made and the attackers were believed to have crossed over to Ethiopia.