Uganda: Citizens Attacked in Kenya Violence
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New Vision (Kampala)
28 January 2008
Posted to the web 29 January 2008
Raymond Baguma, Reuben Olita and Nathan Etengu
A Ugandan was injured by machete-wielding gangs on Sunday night, while another was feared dead in Burnt Forest, a township 40 kilometres outside Eldoret. At least six newly-imported vehicles enroute to Uganda were also burnt by the youth who had blocked the highway.
“We were in a convoy of 10 vehicles and six were ahead of me,” Fred Mayirikiti, the owner of one of the vehicles, told The New Vision by phone from Burnt Forest yesterday.
At around 6:00pm, the convoy encountered a mob that had torched the local fuel station and set up a roadblock, he said.
“My driver, Swaibu Ssenyange, tried to reverse but the mob dragged him out of the truck. He was attacked with machetes and escaped with injuries.
They then set ablaze the vehicles,” Mayirikiti narrated in a shaken voice. Among the burnt vehicles were his Fuso Mitsubishi truck, several Toyota Corona saloon cars, two pick-up trucks and a trailer.
“I am told that the drivers of the two pick-ups that drove ahead were burned to death. One of them was a Ugandan but he has not yet been identified,” added Mayirikiti.
He said he had sought refuge at a displaced camp around the Police station, while his driver was being treated.
In Eldoret, all the major roads leading out of the town had reportedly been blocked by protesters. Fuel tankers on the way to Uganda were said to be stranded in Eldoret town.
Violence was also reported in Cheprit, near Eldoret, where mobs chanted that they would stop vehicles transporting goods to Uganda. In another incident, 20 Ugandan trucks came driving at breakneck speed to the Kenyan border town of Busia after escaping an attempted robbery at a roadblock in Bumala, 10km inside Kenya.
A group of youth had barricaded the road and tried to loot the goods destined for Uganda. The speeding trucks created panic in Busia, causing several Kenyans to flee to Uganda.
Meanwhile, fresh riots erupted in the town of Kisumu yesterday and machete-wielding mobs continued to face off in the Rift Valley, after scores of people were killed in ethnic violence over the weekend.
In the normally peaceful town of Nakuru, a mortuary worker said 64 bodies were lying in the morgue, all victims of the past four days of ethnic fighting.
This brings the total death toll to more than 800 since the disputed re-election of President Mwai Kibaki one month ago.
Gangs from rival groups have been fighting each other with machetes, clubs, and bows and arrows in Nakuru and nearby Naivasha, both famous for their lakes teeming with wildlife.
Kibaki’s ethnic Kikuyus say they do not want revenge but are determined to defend themselves after their kinsmen were attacked by tribes supporting opposition candidate Raila Odinga.
In Naivasha, a 1,000-strong group of mainly Kikuyus brandishing axes, sticks, machetes and hammers confronted several hundred Luos, some of whom were also armed, telling them to leave.
“We want these Luos to go back home. They chased and killed our people. Now we want the same thing to happen to them,” said Kikuyu protester Joseph Maina, holding a plank of wood.
In the worst incident, a Kikuyu mob set fire to a house where Luos and Kalenjins were hiding on Sunday, burning at least 19 to death.
Police said 254 arrests were made overnight.
The number of 250,000 refugees looked sure to swell as thousands more fled the chaos in Naivasha and Nakuru.
In the pro-opposition town of Kisumu, police yesterday fired teargas and bullets in the air as several thousand people took to the streets to protest the deaths of their tribesmen in the Rift Valley.
Residents said angry Luos burned two Kikuyus in their homes in a Kisumu slum, and police shot two people dead. “Almost the whole of Kisumu is up in smoke,” said Eric Odhiambo, a motorcycle taxi driver. “People are mad at the killings of Luo in Naivasha.”
Conflict, Peace and Security
But the protests turned violent, with reports of shops and vehicles set ablaze and barricades set up in the streets.
There have also been riots and houses have been burned in Kakamega and Eldoret.
The violence since Kenya’s December 27 election has taken a new turn, with cycles of killing and revenge linked to disputes over land and distribution of wealth.