Twelve die in Kenya violence after wife of gang boss is killed

Armed members of Kenya’s Mungiki gang, angry at the beheading of their political leader’s wife, fought paramilitary police on the streets of Nairobi yesterday. Up to 12 people were believed to have been killed.

Parts of the Kenyan capital came to a standstill when the gang blocked roads with burning tyres and tore up the railway tracks, derailing a commuter train. In Nairobi’s slums, police unleashed tear gas to break up the demonstrations and fired live bullets over the heads of protesters. Police said two people had died, but local media put the death toll as high as 12. There were also reports of violence in the Rift Valley in western Kenya.

The decapitated body of Virginia Nyaiko, wife of the Mungiki’s jailed political leader Maina Njenga, was recovered last week. Relatives and gang members have accused a section of the police force of being behind the killing but a national police spokesman described accusations of any police involvement as “totally false”.

He said: “Why [would] the police want to kill this woman? If we are interested in the wife of the criminal we would have taken her to court.”

Protesters said if Njenga was not freed, their action would fan out across the east African nation.

• Steve Bloomfield’s Blog: Africa Unscrambled

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
Independent, UK
Apr. 15, 2008
Steve Bloomfield in Nairobi

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This post was last updated: Tuesday, April 15, 2008 at 5:43 PM, Central European Time (CET)