Tuesday, May 20, 2008
of Somali Bantu families have been displaced in the southern region of
Lower Juba after days of inter-clan fighting in which 10 people were
reportedly killed and more than 20 wounded, locals told IRIN.
conflict, mostly around Jamamme, the district capital - 440km south of
Mogadishu - broke out on 14 and 15 May between Bantu clans and the
Biyamal clan of the main Dir community.
The minority Bantu,
sedentary farmers who live in riverine areas, are of Bantu origin,
unlike most Somalis, who are Cushitic in origin.
a resident of Kamsuma, 20km northeast of Jamamme, said the fighting was
most serious in and around the villages of Balad Amiin, 15km south of
Jamamme, and Sabatuni, 16km to the southeast.
He said the
clashes were triggered by revenge for the recent killing of a Bantu
youth by the Biyamal after an argument over charcoal burning, a
lucrative trade in the region.
He said the village of Balad Amiin was razed to the ground, while Sabatuni was partially damaged.
"The 600 Bantu families who lived there are now displaced," he added.
The Bantus for their part raided two Biyamal villages and took some livestock, he added.
Muhyadiin Ibrahim Sabtow of the Jarrer Weyn (Bantus), told IRIN that
most of the displaced families from his side were encamped on the
eastern side of the Juba River.
In retaliatory raids, the
Bantu militia attacked two Biyamal villages, displacing 400 families,
according to Haji Mahamud Ali Hamuun, a Biyamal elder.
"The villages of Bulo Muse and Bulon Jeele were raided and they took many heads of livestock," he said.
Taking up arms
Sabtow said the Bantu, who normally do not carry weapons, had been forced to arm themselves.
the past 17 years we had to endure and watch as armed groups raided our
villages and took whatever they wanted," he said. "We were forced to
arm to defend our lives and land."
A local journalist told IRIN that the Bantus had been buying weapons for defensive purposes.
"They have suffered in the past at the hands of their nomadic neighbours, so they decided enough was enough," he said.
Yusuf said a temporary ceasefire was in place, with the two sides expected to meet in Kamsuma.
Osman, a local aid worker, told IRIN that both sides said they wanted
to talk: "Both seem eager to end the conflict." He said the fighting
had resulted in 1,000-1,500 families - about 9,000 people - being
Hamuun, the Biyamal elder, said the two sides had
met three times in the past week but were unable to resolve their
"I am hopeful that this meeting tomorrow [20 May] will find an acceptable solution, before things get worse," he said.
said the Bantus always sought to live peacefully with their neighbours
and would welcome "any mediation to end our conflict with the Biyamal".
Source: IRIN NEWS http://irinnews.org