4 Dead in Kenyan Gang Protest
At least four people were killed in the violence, police and members of the banned Mungiki gang said, reminding Kenyans of the fragility of the country’s peace after postelection riots earlier this year.
Regional police chief Philip Ndwiga said two people were shot dead in Central province. Gang members who asked not to be identified for fear or reprisals said two others were killed in the Dandora neighborhood of the capital, Nairobi.
Earlier in the day, the gang blocked the main east-west road running through the country but it was quickly cleared, police officer Willy Lugusa said.
Police and gang members fought running battles in Naivasha, a town about 60 miles to the northwest of the capital along the road.
In the western town of Eldoret, senior police officer Muinde Kioko said that two Mungiki supporters had been badly beaten by members of the public and 16 had been arrested.
Within the capital, gang members manned roadblocks of burning tires and pulled people out of vehicles. Local resident Cliff Owino said vehicles in the slum of Mathare were being stoned and gunshots were heard.
Several burned-out, smoldering cars were blocking roads and about a dozen riot police with shields and masks were patrolling a main roundabout littered with broken glass and the blackened shell of a minibus.
“This now is all because of the Mungiki,” said Peter Nyaga, who works at a milling factory. “They are everywhere here.”
In another part of the city, around 200 members of the Mungiki gang armed with machetes and sticks blocked off a road and marched with a banner demanding the release of their leader from prison. Police fired tear gas at them but failed to disperse them.
The Kenya National Youth Alliance, the political wing of the gang, released a statement accusing police of last week’s killings of their imprisoned leader’s wife and their acting leader’s brother.
“On the atrocious murders of the loved ones at the hands of the ruthless police force, the government in its impunity has continued committing extra-judicial killings and is responsible for these two murders. They should stop trying to pass the buck as they are all connected with the killings that have been going on since 2006,” the statement read.
National police spokesman Eric Kiraithe denied any police involvement in the killings.
“That is totally false accusations,” he said. “If we are interested in the wife of the criminal we would have taken her to court.”
The Mungiki, a quasi-religious sect linked to a string of beheadings, promote the culture of the Kikuyu, Kenya’s largest tribe. Gang members say they were also approached by politicians to act as an ethnic militia during the violence following Dec. 27’s disputed elections in which over 1,000 people died. Kiraithe rejected those claims.
On Sunday, President Mwai Kibaki implemented a power-sharing deal aimed at resolving the political crisis that set off that unrest. He made opposition leader Raila Odinga prime minister and appointed several members of Odinga’s party to his Cabinet.
Associated Press Writer Elizabeth Kennedy contributed to this report.