MOMBASA, Kenya — Hundreds of farmers attacked a village, killing at least 48 people in southeastern Kenya in an escalation of ongoing clashes between the farming and pastoral communities over land and resources, an official said Wednesday.
Some people were burned to death in their houses, while others were hacked to death or shot with arrows, said Tana River region police chief Joseph Kavoo.
The majority of those killed were women and children, said area resident Said Mgeni. He said the attacks began Wednesday at dawn when a group of about 200 people belonging to the Pokomo ethnic group raided a village in the Riketa area and torched all the houses belonging to the Orma, a pastoralist community.
Three Orma men and a woman who survived the attack with wounds to the head, stomach, and hands said the attackers were also armed with guns. The four were admitted to the Malindi district hospital.
Ali Algi, who had injuries on his head and a broken hand, said that they were attacked by hundreds of men.
‘‘Most of us were asleep and others had woken up when the men came chanting ‘kill them, kill them’ towards our village at about 7 o’clock. They shot many people and then attacked others with pangas,’’ long, wide knives. “I was also shot on my right hand and then attacked with a panga on my head,’’ he said.
Algi said that he witnessed men, women, and children being shot and then beheaded and others being locked and burned inside their houses.
‘‘I witnessed the whole ugly scene. They shot us and then attacked us with pangas to ensure that we are completely dead,’’ he said.
Mgeni, who is in charge of a government fund for development in the constituency, said it was a retaliatory attack sparked by incidents last week.
First the Pokomo protested over Orma grazing their cattle on their farms, and farmers attacked the pastoralists and injured hundreds of their livestock. The Orma then retaliated and killed two Pokomos over that episode, Kavoo said.