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Elmi gives moving account of Wagalla massacre

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 18 – Cabinet Minister Mohammed Elmi on Wednesday gave a moving testimony before the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission sitting in Nairobi to unearth the 1984 Wagalla Massacre.

Mr Elmi who is the current Member of Parliament for Wajir East recounted the gruesome scenes that he saw at the Wagalla Airstrip in the days immediately after the massacre while working as a medical officer.

"To my right was a pile of bodies and two naked people carrying yet another body to put on the pile. On the left side of the field I saw a young man who ran to a water bowser, two soldiers came from two different directions with sticks until he ran back to the crowd in the centre of the field," he said.

The Northern Kenya Development Minister was instrumental in assisting injured victims during the uprising which occurred on February 13, 1984.

Mr Elmi told the commission that he spent the following days assisting an Italian missionary, known as Sister Anna Lina Tonneli, in searching for victims, most of whom had been brutally beaten, burnt or raped at the Airstrip.

"We found a man who was naked, whose legs were burnt. He said they [detainees] were told to take off their clothes, which were burnt, and then told to step on the clothes and his legs were burned," recounted Elmi.

Contrary to former Wajir acting District Commissioner Manasseh Tiema\’s testimony on Tuesday, Mr Elmi said detainees at the airstrip did not mention receiving any food or water for the entire period they were detained there – for about three days.

He also alleged that on the day of the Massacre, Mr Tiema\’s visit to the Airstrip triggered a commotion at the where some of those who had been detained there attempted to stage an escape. A number of them made a successful break.

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Pleading for justice, the Minister urged the commission to carry out thorough investigations to determine the actual number of those who died, to curb a repeat of similar atrocities in the country.

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