News 2008


Kenyan Police Kill 4 Looters



ELDORET, Kenya (AP) - Kenyan police killed four people as mobs set scores of houses and businesses ablaze in a western Kenyan town, an official said Friday, after a policeman's killing of an opposition lawmaker sparked clashes in the Rift Valley.

At least three other people were killed in rioting following the shooting of David Kimutai Too on Thursday, adding to the toll of a monthlong postelection crisis that has killed more than 800 people and forced 300,000 from their homes.

Talks aimed at ending the crisis, being mediated by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, resumed Friday with an address by Annan's successor, Ban Ki-Moon, who appealed to negotiators to "Look beyond the individual interest. Look beyond the party lines. ... Now the future is on you."

Opposition leader Raila Odinga, who accuses President Mwai Kibaki of stealing Dec. 27 elections and demands a new vote. Kibaki has made clear his position as president is nonnegotiable, and the international community is pressing both to share power.

Much of the bloodshed set off by the vote has pitted other tribes, including Odinga's Luo, against Kibaki's Kikuyu. Kikuyus, Kenya's largest ethnic group, have long been resented for their dominance of the economy and politics. Western Kenya's Rift Valley has seen some of the worst violence.

Police said Too's killing in the Rift Valley city of Eldoret was a crime of passion: He was shot by a traffic police officer who discovered the lawmaker was having an affair with his girlfriend, also a police officer. A woman shot in the same attack also died.

Too was the second anti-government legislator killed in a week Mugabe Were was fatally shot Tuesday as he drove to his house in suburban Nairobi. Opposition politicians said both were victims of assassination plots meant to rob Odinga's party of the parlimentary majority it won in voting the same day as the presidential election. A Too family spokesman accused the police of a cover-up, saying the lawmaker was not involved with the woman.

The spokesman, Julius Langat, said the slain policewoman was a family friend to whom Too, a former teacher and father of two, had gone to seek protection for his family.

Odinga said Friday that the United States has offered to send FBI agents to investigate Were's murder, and urged the government to accept. The U.S Embassy confirmed the offer had been made.

Too's killing added to distrust of police already accused of using excessive force. Police stations were targeted in three western towns. Britain Foreign Office Minister Mark Malloch-Brown, who was in neighboring Ethiopia Friday, suggested deploying Kenya's army, saying Kenyan police "at this stage seem to be seen as no longer neutral and behind some of the killings."

But Kibaki, also in Ethiopia for a continental summit, insisted Friday "The security situation in the country is under control."

In western Kenyan Friday, hundreds of young men blocked roads with burning tires and rocks in Kericho, a town near Too's constituency. "Kibaki must go!" they chanted.

Smoke columns rose from smoldering ashes in what remains of the city's poor Nwagocho and Baraka housing estates.

There, police said they shot and killed four people and injured five Thursday evening and Friday morning.

"Those who were shot and killed were participating in looting properties and torching residential houses and business buildings," said John Otieno, in charge of criminal investigations there.

One of the wounded at the hospital, Elizabeth Kones, said she was running from her burning home when she was hit. Her hand was broken.

In Eldoret, 21 people were injured in clashes following Too's killing, including 13 who were shot, of whom one later died.

In another western town, Kisumu, police fired tear gas and then live rounds at scores of protesters trying to block the main road. An AP photographer saw the body of a man shot in the head, who his wailing brothers identified as Joffrey Opiyo, 18. An attendant at Kisumu morgue said the body of a boy aged about 14 years old was brought in with bullet wounds.

Associated Press Writers Anita Powell and Heidi Vogt in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Katy Pownall in Kikuyu Town, and Tom Maliti, Malkhadir M. Muhumed and Tom Odula in Nairobi contributed to this report.