Kenya’s police have called off the exhumation of two alleged mass graves in the Tana River Delta, saying they only found a human foot there.
They suspect four bodies had earlier been removed.
Earlier this week, regional police chief Aggrey Adoli told journalists that an unknown number of bodies were at the two sites.
More than 100 people have been killed in clashes in the area in the past month.
The long-running conflict is between the Pokomo people – mostly farmers growing cash crops by the Tana River – and the Orma, semi-nomadic cattle herders.
There are accusations that politicians have incited the violence ahead of elections next March.
Mr Adoli acknowledged that no bodies had been found and said it was “strange”, the AFP news agency reports.
“The appearance of the area and the heavy stench of rotting flesh pointed towards the existence of a grave,” he said, suggesting the site may have been tampered with.
A court order was obtained and a team of pathologists and gravediggers were sent to the remote region.
The head of the operation, Antony Kamitu, told the BBC that inside one of the graves, they had individual cavities which had been dug for four bodies.
He says he believes they were removed before the police found the graves and sealed off the area.
“We believed the bodies were removed to hide the identities. Our plan was to take fingerprints of the bodies and that would have led us to their origins,” he said.
“So the operation is now called off.” BBC