ISIOLO, Kenya (Reuters) – Clashes between tribesmen in the remote, arid northern region of Kenya that borders Ethiopia killed at least 19 people and security has been beefed up in case of more reprisals, officials said on Tuesday.

Rift Valley Provincial Commissioner Osman Warfa told Reuters 19 Kenyans died in fighting with raiders from the Merrille tribe, also know as the Dassenech, from Ethiopia.

Cattle rustling and clashes over grazing land and access to water are relatively common in the region, though the extent of the casualties this week has concerned local officials.

“Our team has assessed the situation and established that the attackers were from the Merrille community from Ethiopia who had come inside Kenya,” Osman said.

“Security has been beefed up. We have deployed more security forces and we are liaising with the Ethiopian government to restore calm and contain the situation,” he said.

Another government official in northern Kenya said 21 Kenyans had died along with four Ethiopian tribesman in a series of tit-for-tat clashes along the border.

He said one Kenyan died in an initial raid into Turkana by the Merille. The Kenyan tribesman retailated, killed four Ethiopians and pursued one man who escaped. But the Kenyans came under attack again and 20 were killed, the official said.

The Ethiopian government said it was checking on the reports but did not have an immediate comment.

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