Five die in Tanzania farmers-pastoralists clashes

Dar es Salaam- Tanzania (PANA) -- At least five farmers have died and 11 others serious injured in clashes this week between farmers and Sukuma herders over grazing land and cattle theft disputes in southern Tanzania, the police said Friday.
Eyewitnesses told reporters at Mbeya, some 900-km south of Dar es Salaam, that Sukuma pastoralists attacked farmers in the Songwe Valley near the Tanzania-Mozambique border after their cattle went missing.
The herders suspected the cattle had been stolen and slaughtered for meat by farming communities in neighbouring Totoe village.
Mbeya Regional (provincial) Police Commander Suleieman Kova confirmed the clashes and the arrest of eight people.
"We have also deployed more police officers in the area to monitor developments," he said, blaming some 200 Sukuma militiamen for invading the Totoe village.
"They (militiamen) attacked anyone in sight who was not from their community, killing five people, seriously injuring 11 others and torched three houses," Kova said.
Residents said the situation remained volatile Friday.
On Wednesday, the government announced plans to revamp the country's livestock industry to make it more profitable for pastoralists, who are among the poorest communities, which constitute about a third of Tanzania's 37 million population.
Besides the Sukuma, the other pastoralists communities are the Gogo, the Maasai and the Nyamwezi, all in the central part of the country.
Ethnic clashes are frequent in these communities between farmers and pastorarists over grazing land and cattle rustling disputes.
Last month, the government quelled skirmishes in the north, where 200 people from Kurya ethnic group were displaced in fights with Maasai pastoralists.
At least two people were killed and 60 houses and 30 food stores set ablaze in that incident.

06 october 2006 08:56:00

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