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Kenya lifts coastal area curfew a year after clashes

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya lifted a curfew in a coastal region on Saturday about a year after it was imposed over clashes that killed 100 people and raised fears at the time of broader ethnic violence.

In August and September 2012, raiders in the Tana River delta armed with guns, machetes and spears killed men, women and children, heightening tensions ahead of a presidential vote in March which, in the end, went peacefully.

The Pokomo ethnic group of farmers and Orma cattle herders have fought for years over access to grazing, farmland and water, but rights groups blamed the worst clashes last year on politicians trying drive rival voters away.

The election, which brought President Uhuru Kenyatta to power, was the first since a disputed 2007 presidential race which triggered weeks of bloodletting.

Local leaders complained the curfew had hurt the region's economy, as they were only allowed to be out working between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily. Those found outside in violation were arrested by security officers and charged.

"The curfew is lifted, and it will not be in force any more," Kenyatta told relieved residents, who applauded the announcement. "If you go back to war again, don't blame the government again for the actions it will take."

A Kenya Red Cross official said tensions remained but also noted some efforts at reconciliation.

(Reporting by Joseph Akwiri; Writing by Edmund Blair)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130831/kenya-lifts-coastal-area-curfew-year-after-clashes