Kenyan police have arrested seven people in connection with last week's deadly village massacre in country's remote north as thousands continue to flee their homes fearing reprisals, officials said Monday.
Police said that among the seven detained, two had been positively identified as ringleaders in Tuesday's massacre in Turbi village that led to revenge attacks in the area which a total of 82 people were killed, including 26 children.
"We have arrested a total of seven people," said Robert Kipkemoi Kitur, the assistant commissioner of police in Kenya's Eastern Province near the border with Ethiopia where the attacks took place.
"Two of them have been positively identified as key suspects behind the Turbi massacre," he told reporters by phone. "We are not badly off. We are working quite well with our counterparts in Ethiopia."
Meanwhile, the Kenyan Red Cross said the number of people to have fled their homes in the region to the relative safety of Marsabit, the nearest large town to Turbi, and other municipalities, had increased to 9,000 from the 6,000 reported late last week.
"In the whole, about 9,000 people have escaped into towns," said Farid Abdul Kadir, the Red Cross head of disaster response. "The situation is still volatile and tense with possible escalation of the conflict."
The brutal raid on Turbi has been blamed on members of the Borana clan who have long-standing feuds with the rival Gabra clan, over access to water and pasture for their animals.
On Friday, the Red Cross appealed for 53.9 million shillings (US$709,210) to support people affected by the attack for the next six months, but has so far recieved about 6.8 million shillings (US$89,473).
Kenyan security forces pursue their hunt for the perpetrators as well as hundreds of livestock that were stolen during the deadly raid, which is believed to be the worst-ever single episode of inter-clan violence in the country's post-colonial history.
Dozens of patients, wounded in the deadly attack, are still admitted in Marsabit District Hospital, while 11 seriously wounded were airlifted advanced treatment in the capital.
Under fire for his response to two recent tragedies involving mass fatalities, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki on Monday defended his actions and said they were being misreported by the media.
Kibaki's office denied published claims that the president had acted either slowly or inappopriately to last Tuesday's inter-clan violence in the north or the consumption of adultered moonshine in the south that killed more than 50 people last month.
"When such incidences occur, the president does not only act fast to condole the bereaved families but also to arrest the situation," the presidential press service said.
Authorities in Nairobi said they had ordered three feuding MPs from the region to report to Marsabit Police Station and record statements over recent claims that the attack was a result of incitement.