By Adam Mynott
BBC News, Nakuru
Terrifying mobs of young men armed with panga (machetes), rungus (wooden clubs) and bows and arrows stormed through the streets of Nakuru on Friday.
The market town, the capital of Kenya's Rift Valley, has not witnessed scenes like this for many years, if ever.
It is about two and half hour's drive from Nairobi to Nakuru and as we came into the town on the main road we were confronted by a mob advancing down the tarmac.
A stone smashed a back-door window of our car, crashing against the head of my colleague Nawaz Shah, showering him with broken glass.
He was not badly hurt and our troubles were nothing compared to those of hundreds of people in the town who had been attacked or forced to abandon their homes.
Frenzy of violence
Ezekiel, a security guard watching over a petrol station, said he had left his wife and child in their home that morning and he had no idea whether they were safe.
"They are crouching there in the room all alone. I told them not to move and it is now too dangerous for me to get near them," he told me.
All around us people were hurrying away from a junction where another petrol station had been set on fire.
More than a dozen people have been killed in a frenzy of violence in the town, and dozens of properties have been torched and destroyed.
Nakuru is 90% populated by Kikuyus, and many other Kikuyus, driven from their homes in other parts of the Rift Valley, have come to Nakuru in the past three weeks seeking shelter.
They accuse mobs of Kalenjins, another tribal group, of launching attacks on them in the north of the town - trying to drive them out.
Attacks three weeks ago were sparked by the disputed election, but the fighting has now taken on a different complexion.
Old inter-ethnic scores, some going back generations are being settled. Many relate to disputes over land which different communities claim was stolen from them.
In the centre of the town shops and businesses started to close down and by the middle of the afternoon, nothing was left open.
Fear is etched deep into everyone's faces. Groups of terrified residents were suddenly running headlong out of the parts of town they live in, because they heard that houses were being attacked and set on fire.
Many people have abandoned their homes altogether.
The road leading south out of Nakuru towards Nairobi was dotted with vehicles piled high with belongings: chairs, sofas, tables, pots and pans, chests of drawers and in one truck we saw, a cow.
Many do not know where they are going - they simply know they must get away.
The town of Nakuru is no stranger to inter-ethnic strife. For many years it has been eased and contained, but now it has erupted in sickening acts of murder and brutality.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/01/26 00:31:48 GMT© BBC MMVIII
Army Helps Out As Nakuru Erupts
The East African Standard (Nairobi)
26 January 2008
Posted to the web 25 January 2008
By Peter Mutai
Thirty-Two people were killed in fresh flare-up in Nakuru and Molo. And Rift Valley's capital was put on 7pm-6am curfew. Military officers in fatigues, and armed to the teeth, were brought out of the barracks to enforce law and order. Another 5,000 people were displaced in Nakuru and adjoining areas.
In Molo 20 people were killed and two guns recovered when rival groups engaged in fierce battle in By-Gum area in Sirikwa on Thursday night.
That was the sordid picture of gloom and desperation, the nasty game of guns, pangas and arrows that took shape as international mediation effort widened its scope.
Former UN Secretary General Mr Kofi Annan who on Thursday brought President Kibaki and Orange Democratic Movement leader, Mr Raila Odinga, was again working round the clock.
The African Union chosen mediator and the group of eminent persons, and who has the support of the global family through the European Union, the US and the UN, was to meet retired President Moi. But the meeting was moved to Saturday.
He also, in pushing for what he called the short and long term solution to the post-election violence that pushed Kenya to the precipice, also met Nobel Peace laureate, Prof Wangari Maathai, Electoral Commission chairman Mr Samuel Kivuitu and religious leaders.
Nakuru, which had been spared the turmoil, sparked by the disputed outcome of the December 27 presidential elections, erupted on Friday.
The Government deployed military personnel from Lanet barracks to contain the violence that sent terror across Nakuru, turning it into a ghost town. Businesses closed and residents fled the streets.
In Nakuru town alone, 12 people were hacked to death or shot with bows and arrows in the Thursday night terror. This followed a serious fighting in Githima and Kwa Rhonda estates next to the sprawling Kaptembwo slums.
Of the 20 killed in Molo, 18 were shot with poisoned arrows during the 10pm incident.
But Molo OCPD Mr Litabalia Acheza disputed the figures, saying he had only counted three bodies.
"I counted three bodies but if there is some other information we shall let you know later in the day," he told The Saturday Standard.
A police officer, who took part in collecting the bodies, was categorical 18 youths had died from arrow wounds. The slain youths had run into the trap from rival groups after they crossed over to Sirikwa area from Molo town.
Face-to-face with attackers
The police officer, who was at the scene of the bloody killing, said the dead were on a revenge mission and had attempted to flee after they came face-to-face with the attackers.
"We are at the moment collecting bodies of those killed and we had to fire several times in the air to stop youths who had regrouped to patrol the area," the source added.
The source said among the recovered guns was a G3 riffle and a homemade gun, which the raiders took away.
In the Nakuru combat armed youths from two rival communities engaged the police in running battles in the night-long terror that saw several houses in Githima estate burnt and property worth millions destroyed.
When The Saturday Standard visited the estate, hundreds of families were fleeing to safe grounds for fear of being attacked as the fighting spread.
Police picked three bodies by the roadside along the Nakuru-Eldoret Highway with panga cuts on the head.
One more person was hacked to death barely 300m from where Nakuru DC Mr Andrew Wanyagah was addressing a peace meeting, outside Githima estate.
The DC had hectic time controlling the angry youths from the warring communities who were baying for each other's blood. Police struggled to clear a section of the Nakuru-Eldoret Highway that had been barricaded.
Angry youths who were armed with pangas lit born fires at Kolen bus stage near Total Junction and blocked the road with huge logs and stones.
Gunfire rent the air for the better part of Thursday night and Friday as police dispersed youths who attempted to regroup and unleash terror on their neighbours.
The Reverend Richard Nato of African Faith Gospel Church said he witnessed three people being killed during the night of terror in Githima.
"The problem started at around midnight near Githima estate after the youths clashed before setting on fire houses," he said at the scene.
Nato said six other people who sustained panga cuts and others shot with arrows were taken to hospital.
A resident, Mr Joseph Kamau accused the police of failing to respond to the distress call by the residents on time, saying the attackers moved from house to house setting them on fire.
"We had to flee to Eveready junction along the Nakuru-Eldoret Highway for safety after the raiders burnt our houses and shooting at us with bows and arrows," he said.
"Fighting could have been averted if the police had acted fast since we informed them of the impending raid," he added.
At the main Nakuru bus terminus, a trader who was supplying beans to the local market was stoned to death. Another one was hacked to death near the bus stop named Kalenjin Airport.
In another incident in Molo, two people were killed by a mob in Mauche area along the Njoro-Mau Narok road on Thursday night.
Molo DC, Mr Mohamud Salim, spent the better part of the day addressing the two warring groups, asking them to uphold peace. But tension continued to spread to other estates.
In Nakuru, Wanyagah led a security team backed by military personnel from Lanet barracks, as he toured Kaptembwa slums calling for peace.
"This problem has been fuelled by rumours circulating among local communities. We have received reports that members of the Mungiki gang and armed militiamen have been transported to the town to cause mayhem," he said.
Following the violence, angry youths barricaded all roads leading in and out of Nakuru town for the better part of the day as police made frantic efforts to clear the highway.
The youths erected an illegal roadblock along the Nakuru-Nairobi highway near Pipeline and were inspecting vehicles plying the route.
Motorist plying the Eldama Ravine-Mogotio road were not spared by the violence as armed youths stoned them near Speedy petrol station, London estate.
During the violence, a fire engine belonging to the Municipal Council of Nakuru was set on fire near Eveready factory.
Rift Valley PC Hassan Noor Hassan said the restriction of movements of persons would continue until calm returns.
"Restriction of movements of persons in Nakuru town and its environs has been imposed and will take effect from 7pm to 6am," said the PC, in a statement issued by Rift Valley Deputy Provincial Information officer Mr Wafula Wasula.
He said the ban on night movements would be enforced in Kaptembwa, Githima, Shaburb, Ronda, and Pondamali estates and surrounding areas.
The PC warned residents against violating the ban, saying those found loitering would be arrested.
The province has borne the brunt of violence, with thousands of people being displaced in Molo, Uasin Gishu, Kericho, Bomet, Kipkelion, Eldama Ravine, Trans Nzoia, and Baringo districts.
Copyright © 2008 The East African Standard. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).
Full story from EA Standard on All Africa
Worried Kenyans fear more Rift Valley bloodshed
25 Jan 2008 23:51:03 GMT
By Tim Cocks
NAKURU, Kenya, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Kenyans in the Rift Valley town of Nakuru feared more violence on Saturday after a disputed election triggered pitched battles between ethnic gangs that killed at least a dozen people.
Authorities have imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on the town, which had previously been spared the bloodshed of a political crisis that has claimed around 700 lives in the last month.
The Nakuru clashes pitted members of President Mwai Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe against Luos and Kalenjins who backed his rival Raila Odinga -- and largely caught the security forces unawares.
"The Kibaki supporters were blowing whistles to rally their people. I saw them kill someone," said Benson Waliaula, 36, a security guard at a bank in the centre of town.
"They tore his clothes off first then killed him with blows of a panga (machete). It took him some time to die. The police were just watching. There was nothing they could do."
Residents said many homes were burned and shops looted as large groups of youths armed with rocks, bows and arrows and homemade guns confronted each other across town.
Kenyan army troops were deployed in some neighbourhoods, where they cleared burning barricades off roads -- the first time the military has been used during the crisis.
But witnesses said the police mostly stayed in their barracks, apparently unsure how to contain the chaos.
National police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said in a statement late on Friday that clashes between tribal gangs had broken out in four Nakuru suburbs, but that calm had been restored.
He rejected witness accounts that a dozen people had died, saying officers were investigating four possible killings. And he said "comprehensive measures" were taken to ensure security.
"Rumours that lorry loads of criminal gangs have been transported into Nakuru from various parts of Rift Valley with a mission to commit crimes against certain communities are malicious and intended to cause unnecessary tension," he said.
Full story from Reuters Alertnet
15 killed, curfew set in strife-torn western Kenya
by Irene Wamaru
Fri Jan 25, 5:10 PM ET
NAKURU, Kenya (AFP) - Ethnic clashes killed at least 15 people in Kenya's western Rift Valley, police said Friday, diminishing hopes of an end to weeks of rioting and tribal killings sparked by disputed presidential polls.
As violence exploded in the provincial capital Nakuru, where eight people were killed Friday, authorities imposed an overnight curfew -- only the second since the start of the crisis last month.
"We have imposed a 7:00 pm to 7:00 am curfew to help manage the situation in Nakuru," Rift Valley Police commander Everette Wasige told AFP, as thick plumes of smoke rose above the deserted town and its slums, and thousands fled their homes.
The long-festering fuse of tribal warfare was lit by charges that President Mwai Kibaki stole the December 27 presidential polls from opposition chief Raila Odinga, plunging the nation into a vortex of violence.
Full story from AFP
Curfew after Kenya town clashes
The Kenyan police have imposed a curfew after at least 10 people were killed in clashes in the central town of Nakuru.
Rival gangs of young men battled with machetes, metal bars, bows and arrows, while thick smoke billowed up from burning buildings.
"Nakuru town has been shut down... hundreds are injured in hospital," Kenya Red Cross head Abbas Gullet said.
Some 700 people have been killed in clashes between rival ethnic and political groups since disputed polls.
The violence comes despite hopes of progress after President Mwai Kibaki met opposition leader Raila Odinga for the first time on Thursday since December's disputed polls.
Armed groups have barricaded the main highway leading in and out of Nakuru and have been pelting stones at motorists who defy their orders to stop, says the BBC's David Ogot in the town.
The police are unable to protect us so we have to take charge now Armed man in Nakuru
Businesses have closed and Nakuru has been turned into a ghost town. Residents from the worst-affected suburbs of Shabab and Kaptembe have sought refuge in churches and the police station.
"The dead bodies and injuries are coming in. I cannot give you a figure now," the medical superintendent at Nakuru Hospital, Dr George Mugenya, told AP news agency.
Soldiers have been working with police to restore order and remove the barricades.
Some of the latest violence seems to be revenge by members of President Kibaki's Kikuyu community on groups seen as pro-opposition, such as the Kalenjins and Luos.
Kikuyus have been targeted elsewhere in the Rift Valley and many have fled to Nakuru.
"We have vowed that for every Kikuyu killed in Eldoret, we shall kill two Kalenjins who are living in Nakuru," said bus conductor Dennis Kariuki, according to Reuters news agency.
Our correspondent says suspected Kikuyu members of the outlawed Mungiki sect, dressed in either red T-shirts or hats have been patrolling the streets armed with machetes, clubs and other crude weapons.
"The police are unable to protect us so we have to take charge now," one young man told the BBC.
But AP reports that armed opposition supporters were also on the streets, shouting: "Raila is our president. Kikuyus go out of Rift Valley."
The curfew runs from 1900 local time (1600 GMT) until 0700 (0400 GMT).
Nakuru is capital of the Rift Valley, which has seen some of the worst violence in the past month.
Rival groups in the area have long-standing land disputes and these tensions have erupted, as ethnic, political and economic fault-lines have reinforced each other.
Full story from BBC
Violence Continues in Kenya a Day After Talks
By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN
Published: January 26, 2008
NAIROBI, Kenya — The political bickering continued in Kenya on Friday, and so did the violence, with young men in gangs from opposing ethnic groups killing one another in the streets with machetes and bows and arrows.
Kenya’s Political Rivals Meet (January 25, 2008)
Nakuru, one of the biggest towns in the Rift Valley, seems to be the new trouble zone. Witnesses said fighting erupted there late Thursday when mobs of Kikuyus, the ethnic group of Kenya’s president, mobilized to avenge attacks suffered at the hands of other ethnic groups.
Witnesses said Kikuyu gangs built roadblocks to stop police officers from entering certain neighborhoods and then burned homes and businesses belonging to two other groups, Luos and Kalenjins. Those groups sent out their young men to confront the attackers, resulting in a riot with hundreds of homes burned, dozens of shops destroyed and at least 10 people killed. Some
witnesses said dozens of corpses filled the town’s morgues.
The situation had gotten so out of hand by Friday evening that the authorities imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew.
“It’s totally unsafe here,” Peter Geche, a taxi driver in Nakuru, said by telephone on Friday afternoon. “So many people have been killed by arrows.”
More than 650 people have been killed in Kenya since a disputed presidential election in December, and the latest clashes show how the violence has taken on a momentum of its own, which the authorities appear unable to stop.
Police officials have sent reinforcements to Nakuru, which is about 100 miles northwest of Nairobi, the capital. Officers have dismantled some of the roadblocks and fired tear gas to disperse the mobs, but witnesses said any calm that might have been achieved would be brief.
In Nairobi, politicians continued to hurl accusations about who was at fault for spoiling what could have been a breakthrough moment the day before.
Mwai Kibaki, Kenya’s president, who won re-election by a thin margin, and Raila Odinga, the top opposition leader, who says the election was rigged and that he in fact won, met Thursday for the first time since the vote. They have been under enormous pressure to negotiate. Many Kenyans were hoping they would strike a compromise and end the turmoil, which has battered the economy and threatened to reverse decades of stability.
But immediately after the meeting, Mr. Kibaki gave a short speech in which he referred to himself as Kenya’s “duly elected president,” and opposition leaders then held a news conference denouncing what he said.
On Friday, government officials accused the opposition of trying to torpedo the peace effort.
“It’s very sad,” said Alfred Mutua, a government spokesman. “We were giving them the benefit of the doubt. And for them to issue a condemning statement after the two leaders had just talked about reconciliation, that’s hypocritical.”
Salim Lone, a spokesman for the opposition, fired back that “the whole world knows who ruined the event yesterday.”
The two sides spent Friday holding separate meetings and preparing for more negotiations, which are being brokered by Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general. No doubt, there is a lot of thorny ground to cover.
Full story from NY Times
Story by NATION Team
Publication Date: 1/26/2008
At least six people were killed Friday in Nakuru town during clashes involving youth from the Kalenjin and Kikuyu communities.
The post-election violence worsened in the volatile Rift Valley region only a day after bitter rivals President Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga shook hands publicly for the first time since the fiercely contested general elections and called for peace.
The violence paralysed business in the otherwise peaceful town, forcing the Government to send in soldiers to aid police officers who appeared overwhelmed by the situation.
The rampaging combatants, armed with poisoned arrows, machetes, clubs and other crude weapons, reportedly injured hundreds of people, torched houses, looted and destroyed property.
Consequently, the Government imposed a 7pm to 6am curfew in the Rift Valley town.
Roads in Kenya’s fourth largest town and the main gateway to western Kenya were barricaded by armed gangs bringing it to a virtual standstill in the morning.
Full story from Nation
Raila rules out becoming Kibaki’s prime minister
Story by BERNARD NAMUNANE
Publication Date: 1/26/2008
Opposition leader Raila Odinga has ruled out the option of taking up the post of prime minister in President Kibaki’s government as a way of ending the current political crisis.
Speaking a day after the first meeting with the President since the disputed elections, Mr Odinga said the only options on the table for discussion were the resignation of President Kibaki and a re-run of the presidential elections, possibly with formation of a transitional government to take charge pending new elections.
“I have never said I was considering taking up a position of prime minister under Kibaki,” he said and promised to meet the President again for talks on equal terms.
“I would meet Kibaki again but he should stop making embarrassing remarks like being ‘duly elected’. He should not call himself, the duly-elected and sworn-in president. That is the bone of contention,” Mr Odinga said.
The Lang’ata MP described the meeting between him and President Kibaki on Thursday arranged by mediator Kofi Annan as “useful” but insisted that justice must be done.
Mr Odinga ruled out the prime minister option as the Annan mediation team spent the day trying to understand the electoral process and what could have gone wrong.
Having already received presentations and documents from the Kibaki and Odinga teams, with each side trying to show they won the elections, the former UN secretary general met members of the Electoral Commission.
Full story from Nation
Crimes court watching Kenya
Story by KENNETH OGOSIA
Publication Date: 1/26/2008
The International Criminal Court is closely monitoring the recent post-election violence in Kenya and is ready to intervene, subject to various conditions.
It can only be requested to do so by the Government and the UN Security Council and acceptance is subject to its own independent investigations into cases of alleged crimes against humanity. According to reports from The Hague, the court’s seat, the ICC’s intervention is subject to four conditions.
Hirondelle News Agency has quoted the special prosecutor as saying the first condition is that the permanent court only has a subsidiary jurisdiction, complementary to national criminal agencies.
The Government and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) have both threatened to appeal to the ICC.
ICC cannot intervene if a case referred to it is already the subject of an investigation by national jurisdictions or if the state decides not to prosecute or does not have the will or has no capacity to do so.
Only the most serious crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression are covered and they must have been committed after 2002 (date of entry into force of its Statute). Kenya signed the Statute in August 1999 and filed its instrument of ratification in March 2005. The reported attacks could qualify for crimes against humanity if they were perpetrated against precise ethnic groups.
Full story from Nation
Kenya massacre survivors ask court to stop talks
Fri 25 Jan 2008, 16:17 GMT
NAIROBI, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Survivors of a church massacre in Kenya went to court on Friday to try to stop former U.N. boss Kofi Annan leading mediation efforts and said some participants in the talks were guilty of human rights abuses.
About 700 people have died in ethnic clashes and riots since President Mwai Kibaki's disputed re-election at Dec. 27 polls.
In the worst single incident, 30 members of Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe were killed on Jan. 1 by a mob who set fire to the church where they had sought shelter near Eldoret in the Rift Valley.
Thirty-seven survivors, many of whom suffered severe burns in the attack, appealed to the High Court in Nairobi on Friday.
"We want Kofi Annan restrained from continuing with peace talks since some of the people he is involved with ... have influenced the violence," they said in their lawsuit.
It was not immediately clear when the court might rule on their petition.
Annan on Thursday brought Kibaki and his rival, opposition leader Raila Odinga, together for their first private talks on how to end the crisis.
But hopes for a solution were dampened as both sides launched a fresh round of verbal recriminations, and ethnic clashes centred on another Rift Valley town, Nakuru, killed at least a dozen people.
(Reporting by Robert Hummy; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Ibon Villelabeitia)
© Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved.
Full story from Reuters
Alarm As Cases of Rape Increase
26 January 2008
Posted to the web 25 January 2008
The Federation of Women Lawyers of Kenya (FIDA) is worried about the increase of sexual assault cases directed at women and children since the outbreak of post-election violence.
In a statement released Friday, the FIDA chairperson, Ms Violet Awori, said more attention was being given to issues such as chaos, injuries, deaths, destruction of property and the economy, while victims of sexual violence were neglected.
"The Government should step up security in all parts of the country to avoid further escalation of sexual and all other forms of violence, particularly in the slum areas and settlement camps where women and children remain targets for sexual abuse and assault," said Ms Awori.
She said in this era of HIV and Aids, sexual violence requires urgent attention to stop further spread of the disease.
Ms Awori said many rape cases have gone unreported because the victims have other pressing issues affecting them.
Both women and children have remained easy targets during chaos.
"It is worrying that many of the attacks have taken the form of gang rapes with the targeted areas being slums and violence-prone areas where the attackers have taken advantage of the breakdown of law and order to commit these crimes," she said.
Ms Awori advised all survivors of rape and sexual assault to report the crimes to the police to enable provision of support and security.
"We call upon all survivors of rape and sexual assault to urgently seek medical attention and other support services available for the purposes of ensuring their physical, psychological and emotional health," she said.
Copyright © 2008 The Nation. All rights reserved.
Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).
Story from Nation at All Africa
Marriages fall victim to Kenya violence
By ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY, Associated Press Writer
Fri Jan 25, 2:12 PM ET
CHEPKANGA, Kenya - He doesn't call. He doesn't write. His cell phone has been switched off for weeks. After 17 years, Naomi Kering's husband is gone — one more intertribal marriage fallen victim to the violence that has followed Kenya's disastrous presidential election.
"The kids always ask me, 'Where is he?' And I always say he is going to come back," Kering, a 34-year-old of the Kalenjin tribe, told The Associated Press as she stood in the rubble of her home, torched by a mob last month because her husband is a Kikuyu. "But I hope he stays away, because I love him and I want him to be safe."
Since the Dec. 27 vote, marriages that united different ethnic groups have felt the strain as communities shun the Kikuyu tribe of President Mwai Kibaki, whose disputed re-election unleashed a wave of bloodshed that has killed at least 685 people.
Until now, marriages like Kering's were common enough to go largely unnoticed, representing hope for what Kenya could be as a nation. But now the fabric of Kenyan society is fraying, forcing families to confront tribal identities many had cast aside long ago.
"This election has changed the very essence of these marriages," said the Rev. Charles Kirui, a Catholic priest whose church in the nearby town of Burnt Forest shelters hundreds of Kikuyus.
"Marriages are breaking up because of a tribal conflict, which means we really have a problem in Kenya."
There are no figures on how many families are affected, but the impact is particularly felt in the heart of opposition territory in western Kenya, where tribal tensions have been most inflamed by the election.
Full story from AP
Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman
January 25, 2008
We welcome the January 24 meeting between President Kibaki and the Honorable Raila Odinga, which was facilitated by the African Union eminent persons group headed by Kofi Annan. The meeting was an important first step to launch a process of dialogue on a political solution to the elections crisis. We urge these two men to maintain momentum and to demonstrate their leadership by moving quickly to address all the outstanding issues in a spirit of compromise, inclusiveness, and patriotism.
We encourage the Kenyan people and their leaders to put the nation first in order to work out a way forward that reflects the will of the Kenyan people. We lend our voice to the calls coming from Kenyans across the ethnic, political, and social spectrum to end violence that has had such a devastating impact.
As a steadfast partner and friend of Kenya, the United States will continue to support the efforts underway to address underlying grievances so that all Kenyans can enjoy lasting peace, justice, and prosperity. We are confident that, with the encouragement and support of her friends, Kenya will seize the opportunity resulting from this crisis in order to strengthen democratic institutions in a way that will benefit all the people.
Released on January 25, 2008
Full story from US State Dept