Conflict between the Murulle and Garre Somali clans near the Kenya-Somali border has killed at least twenty people and has forced hundreds to flee. In a crime suspected to be related to the conflict, two Italian Catholic nuns have also been kidnapped.
The conflict between the clans dates back to 1984 and has been fueled by political differences and resource shortages. The most recent series of violence began in July due to a boundary dispute, the Catholic Information Service for Africa reports.
Violence peaked when a mid-September dawn raid on a Gari village left 12 dead, with two secondary school students being kidnapped that afternoon in broad daylight.
Two Italian Catholic nuns were kidnapped by bandits in a Sunday night ambush in the small town of El Wak in North-Eastern Kenya on the Somali border. The bandits opened fire on the house, where a watchman said he heard one of the sisters screaming as she was abducted.
The bandits are believed to be from one of the warring clans. They also invaded government quarters in the town, stealing vehicles and other valuables.
Maria Teresa Olevero and Catarina Giraudo were both members of the Contemplative Missionary Movement of Fr. Charles De Foucald. Sister Maria Teresa has been in Kenya since 1972 while Sister Catarina, a nurse, has been there since 1974.
The sisters’ service to the mainly Muslim people included offering medical and nutritional care to malnourished children, expectant mothers, and the elderly.
The fate of the sisters is unknown at present.
According to CISA, there are fears the bandits may have crossed into Somalia with the nuns.