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NAIROBI, 18 July (IRIN) - The number of people displaced following clashes between two communities in the northern Kenyan district of Marsabit has risen as villagers continue to move to locations they consider safer, the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) said on Monday.
"The situation is still volatile and tense with possible escalation of the conflict," the KRCS said in a statement. "The total number of displaced people has now increased to 9,000 people," it added.
The KRCS spokesman, Anthony Mwangi, told IRIN: "Boranas are moving to areas with more Boranas, while Gabras are moving to villages with more Gabras."
Armed raiders, believed to have been members of the Borana ethnic group, first attacked villages inhabited by the Gabra community in the Turbi area of Marsabit on 12 July, killing dozens of people and wounding scores of others.
At least 10 members of the Borana community were killed in a revenge attack on 13 July. Police have put the total number of people who died during the clashes at 79, including 15 attackers killed by security forces who pursued them after the attack.
Thousands of livestock were stolen from the Gabra cattle herders during the initial attack.
"We have arrested seven suspects and an operation to recover stolen livestock is going on," the assistant commissioner of police in charge of operations in Eastern Province, Robert Kipkemoi Kitur, said on Monday.
Tension was reported in the Maikona, Kalacha and North Horr areas of Marsabit, where about 1,000 people had camped within the vicinity of the local administration police shelters.
On Friday, the KRCS appealed for nearly KES 54 million (US $707,000) to assist those affected by the crisis in Marsabit.
The agency said the funds would be spent on providing food to those who fled their homes following the violence and would also help those who lost their livestock - the mainstay of the local economy in Marsabit - to replace the lost animals. The operation would last three to six months.
The Society said on Monday that it had since the launch of the appeal received assistance worth KES 6,877,250 ($90,000), mostly in kind.
The semi-arid territory near the Ethiopian border has a history of banditry and cattle rustling among the pastoralist communities living in the area, who often fight over pasture and water points.
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