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Friday, 11 January, 2002, 17:50 GMT
Asians flee Tanzanian land clash
By Christine Otieno in Dar es Salaam

Asian farmers living in northern Tanzania have fled to the town of Arusha after two days of fighting with local nomadic pastoralists left three dead.

Tanzanian countryside
Tensions between farmers and cattle herders have always been high

Riot police have deployed in the area to quell the violence, which flared when a pastoralist was killed after trying to trying to graze cattle on an Asian farm.

Angered by the death, local cattle herders attacked the farm, killing two Asians.

Director of Criminal Investigation Adadi Rajabu said he had sent three senior police officers from Dar es Salaam, to lead the unit of the Tanzanian Field Force.

He said the area around the towns of Babati and Karatu was unstable, and gunfire had been reported, adding his officers would investigate what lay behind the clashes.

Retaliation

According to police and local sources, the fighting began after a local pastoralist grazed his cattle on a farm owned by an Asian.

When the farm owner asked him to remove his cattle from his land, the pastoralist apparently refused.

It is unclear how the cattle herder met his death, but the local community then attacked the farm in question, killing two Asian farmers and injuring three others.

Retaliatory violence between the locals and the farmers ensued, resulting in the mass exodus of Asians into Arusha, the nearest big town.

Tensions between the Asian farmers and the local communities have always been high.

The local tribes, mainly migratory pastoralists, have been complaining about the commercial farms which reduce the grazing areas, especially during dry weather.

It is during such conditions that pastoralists migrate in search of pasture, inevitably bringing them into conflict with the farm owners.

Mr Rajabu said that whatever the reason for the violence, the police would not and could not condone it.

He said once his officers had investigated the matter, all those involved, by they Asian or local, would be arrested and charged in a court of law.

See also:

21 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Tanzania deal sparks aid row
30 Mar 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Identity problems in Kenya
24 May 00 | Africa
Kenya's Asian heritage on display
08 Aug 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Tanzania
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