The Wagalla massacre took place on 10 February 1984 at the Wagalla Airstrip. The facility is situated approximately 15 km (9 mi) west of the county capital of Wajir in the North Eastern Province, a region primarily inhabited by ethnic Somalis. Kenyan troops had descended on the area to reportedly help diffuse clan-related conflict. However, according to eye-witness testimony, about 5,000 Somali men were then taken to an airstrip and prevented from accessing water and food for five days before being executed by Kenyan soldiers.
According to a commissioner with the The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission of Kenya, a government oversight body that had been formed in response to the 2008 Kenyan post-election violence, the Wagalla massacre represents the worst human rights violation in Kenya's history.
For years the Kenyan government denied that a massacre had taken place and insisted that "only 57 people were killed in a security operation to disarm the [area's] residents". It was not until October 2000 that the government publicly acknowledged wrongdoing on the part of its security forces.
In 2010, Bethuel Kiplagat stepped aside as chairman of the Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission because of his alleged involvement in authorising the action that led to the massacre. Reports of the number of men from the Somali Degodia sub-clan, in particular, that were detained by security forces and brought to the airstrip range from 381 to upward of ten thousand.
In April 2012, Kiplagat was reinstated as TJRC chairman after the Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa brokered a truce between him and the other commissioners.
The same year, the former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga ordered an official probe into the atrocities and indicated that the national attorney general should bring to justice those responsible for the killings. Odinga also ordered a museum to be constructed in honour of the victims.
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