Monday, January 28, 2008

POLICE FACE RIOTS IN WEST KENYA!

Police are struggling to restore order in western Kenya, amid a recent wave of violence linked to disputed elections. Riots were continuing in the towns of Naivasha and Nakuru, where dozens of people have been killed in five days of ethnic violence. Police arrested 150 people in the towns, accused of murder and arson.

Meanwhile former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, who is trying to mediate in the crisis, has called for the army to be deployed. The national death toll since December's polls is now nearly 800. Members of President Mwai Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe have been fighting with Luos and Kalenjins who backed his rival Raila Odinga in the election a month ago.

Mr Odinga accuses Mr Kibaki of stealing the vote and has refused to recognise the result. Much of the weekend's violence centred on Nakuru, Kenya's fourth largest city, and Naivasha, some 60km (37 miles) south.

The BBC's Adam Mynott in Nairobi says Naivasha, which witnessed scenes of depraved brutality on Sunday, is once again a battle ground between rival ethnic communities.
However, police have managed to prevent the situation from getting completely out of control, by firing live rounds over the heads of rioters.

But heavily armed youths are continuing to threaten each other. Red Cross workers had been bracing themselves for the grim task of counting the dead from the weekend's violence. They said they could not establish a proper toll until they had searched the charred remains of burnt houses after a day on which at least 19 people died.

Earlier there were riots in the opposition stronghold of Kisumu, where two people were reported killed. Members of the Luo and Luhya tribes have been targeting Kikuyus in what looks like revenge for what happened in the Rift Valley over the weekend. "We want to show our anger at the killing of our people," Fred Onyango, a demonstrator, told news agency AFP.

But the protests turned violent, with reports of shops and vehicles set ablaze and barricades set up in the streets. There has also been violence and houses have been burned in Kakamega in western Kenya and Eldoret in the Rift Valley.

In Eldoret, which experienced some of the worst violence immediately after the election result, there are reports that all the major roads leading out of the town have been blocked by protesters. Separately, two Germans were hacked to death with machetes at a resort south of Mombasa, in an incident involving a robbery and apparently unconnected with the ethnic violence.

Mr Annan is due to meet Mr Kibaki again. While Kenya's leader says he is open to talks, he has refused to countenance Mr Odinga's demand for fresh elections. Mr Annan - who on Saturday travelled to the Rift Valley to meet victims of the violence - has been working to try to overcome the political deadlock. He met Mr Odinga on Sunday, and afterwards opposition spokesman Salim Lone said each side had been asked to name three negotiators to participate in talks, which he said would hopefully start "within a week", according to Associated Press.
BBC NEWS REPORT.

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