Kenya police accused of killing 7 in second day of clashes

KENYAN police battled demonstrators in opposition strongholds with live rounds and tear gas for a second consecutive day yesterday, and the opposition accused police of killing seven protesters.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga said seven had been killed, including a driver for a Kenyan opposition member of parliament who was shot by police as he attempted to leave his house in the Kasarani district, which includes the sprawling Mathare slum, an opposition stronghold. “Six of them were shot by uniformed police officers,” said the MP, Elizabeth Ongoro.

Kenyan police said two people had been shot dead in clashes in Mathare and they had killed two demonstrators in the western opposition stronghold of Kisumu.

“The two young men who were killed were part of the demonstrators and they started hurling stones at the officers. That is when officers fired at them,” said a senior officer.

Witnesses said police fired tear gas and live shots into the air during the day to disperse hundreds of protesters in Nairobi’s slums, and in the western cities of Kisumu and Eldoret.

More than 700 people were killed in nationwide unrest after the December 27 election and the Commonwealth has stepped up international pressure on Mr Kibaki, with the group’s chief, Don McKinnon, saying procedures after the vote “did not meet international standards”.

Mr Odinga, who claims Mr Kibaki rigged the count, repeated yesterday a claim that more than 1,000 people had been killed in the post-election violence.

The crisis has shattered Kenya’s image as a beacon of stability in a restive region and dealt a serious blow to the largest economy in east Africa.

Mr Odinga called three days of demonstrations after mediated efforts to bring the two sides together failed last week.

Two people were killed on the first day of the protests on Wednesday, said police.

Police cracked down on protesters with guns and sticks, in a grim echo of the severe clashes and tribal killings sparked by the presidential poll.

In addition to the dead, more than a quarter of a million people have been displaced.

The opposition said it would ignore a nationwide police ban on rallies.

“The demonstrations are going on and we are neither going to be cowed or stop at anything until all our aims are achieved,” said opposition Orange Democratic Movement secretary general Anyang Nyongo.

Although Nairobi remained relatively calm, police at one point fired tear gas in front of a Nairobi hotel, near a group of opposition officials.

“We are determined to get to Uhuru Park [for the main protest] no matter what it takes. We are even ready to die,” said Najib Balala, a top ODM official afterwards.

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