By Alicia M. Cohn - 12/22/12 08:31 PM EST
The White House on Saturday responded to renewed violence between the Orma and Pokomo tribes of Kenya by urging leaders from both communities to end the ethnic clashes that have escalated this year.
"The United States condemns in the strongest terms the renewed violence in Kenya’s Tana River region, which left over 39 dead and dozens injured on Friday, including many women and children," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.
The attack follows deadly clashes between the two communities in August and September that were motivated in part by competition over water and other limited resources. The international community is concerned that the results of Kenya's elections in March could trigger even more violence, as they did in 2007.
The statement released by the White House asked the tribe leaders and the Kenyan government to hold perpetrators accountable.
"With historic elections approaching in March, peace and stability are essential to Kenya's continued progress," Carney said. "The United States urges the people of Kenya to assert their rights through peaceful means, as provided for in Kenya’s constitution, so that all Kenyans may realize a secure, democratic, and prosperous future."