Death toll mounts in Kenya riots

Opposition leader says more than 250 people may have died in four day of clashes.

    Thousands of Odinga supporters clashed
    with police in Nairobi's slums [AFP]
    "They want to get on with their lives," she said.

    "People are coming out, not in huge numbers, but it does seem calm, and in the Kibera area where the police barricades were before, they have all disappeared."

    Ethnic violence

    However, in the Mathare slum, Odinga supporters, shouting "No Raila, no peace," torched a minibus and attacked travellers who belonged to Kibaki's tribe.

    "The car had fourteen people in it but they only slashed Kikuyus," Boniface Mwangi, a witness, said referring to Kenya's largest ethnic group.

    "One tribe is targeting another one in a fashion that can rightly be described
    as ethnic cleansing"

    Senior police official

    The city of Kisumu, northwest of Nairobi, appeared to be particularly badly affected, with a mortuary attendant telling the AFP news agency that 48 bodies were brought in overnight.

    "They brought in 48 bodies, including three children, 44 had fresh bullet wounds, four were hacked with machetes," he said.

    There was also violence in the nearby town of Eldoret and the eastern port of Mombasa.

    "The situation is very bad in the Rift Valley mainly around Eldoret where it appears to be organised killings," a senior police official told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.

    "One tribe is targeting another one in a fashion that can rightly be described as ethnic cleansing."

    Police and witnesses said that at least 12 people were burnt to death when a mob attacked a church in Eldoret setting the building on fire.

    "We have been informed that 42 have been taken to hospital with severe burns, but I am yet to confirm the death toll in the church," a Red Cross official told AFP news agency.

    Kikuyu homes and businesses were torched and looted during the riots, while some Kikuyu families took refuge in police stations.

    Kibaki victory

    Kibaki, who was sworn in less than an hour after the electoral commission declared him the winner on Sunday, has vowed to clamp down on the unrest.
    "We have put enough police officers in the specific areas where the incidences of violence have occurred to ensure everyone is secure," he said in a New Year message appealling for "national healing" and reconciliation.

    Residents of Nairobi's slums left their homes to
    try to buy food and other supplies [AFP]

    Odinga has rejected Kibaki's victory and urged his supporters to attend a rally in Nairobi on Thursday. But on Tuesday police banned the gathering.

    "When people are daring enough to commit crimes against other people's lives and property, it is not likely the police can also have the capacity to organise security properly," Eric Kiraithe, police spokesman, said.

    Jack Tumwa told the Associated Press news agency that he and three colleagues felt, "there are weighty issues raised ... about the conduct of the ECK during the tallying of results".
    "The commission cannot investigate itself," Tumwa said.

    Most of Kibaki's cabinet lost their seats in parliament, where Odinga's party took the majority of the seats.

    The discrepancy between the parliamentary and presidential results, unexplained delays in vote tallying and anomalies that included a 115 per cent turnout in one constituency have fuelled allegations of vote rigging.

    European Union election observers have said that the poll fell short of international standards and have called for an independent audit into the results.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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