Kenya police kill 10 in two days in crack down on outlawed religious sect

Associated Press/June 26, 2007

Nairobi, Kenya -- Kenya police in two days shot and killed 10 men suspected of being members of an outlawed religious sect accused of a string of beheadings in and around the capital, police said on Tuesday.

Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said two gunmen were killed on Tuesday as they tried to extort money from minibus drivers. The minibuses, known as matatus, are the main form of public transportation in Kenya.

He also said five others were gunned down late Sunday when they engaged in a gunbattle with police patrolling the city's eastern neighborhood, known to be a stronghold for the Mungiki sect.

An assault rifle, a pistol, two machetes and four military combat fatigues were recovered, he said.

"These are Mungiki adherents and we will keep cracking down on this outlawed sect," Kiraithe said.

Mungiki, whose name means "multitude" in the Kikuyu language, was inspired by the 1950s Mau Mau uprising against British rule but has become a street gang linked to murder, political violence and extortion.

The group is suspected in the deaths of at least 20 people in the past three months, including 12 found mutilated or beheaded since May.

Also on Tuesday, a suspected member of the sect was killed in the eastern Dandora slums and a pistol recovered, senior police officer Maina Migwi said.

In central Kenya, police shot and killed two gunmen, according to the Provincial Commissioner Kiplimo Rugut. He said the victims are suspected followers of the sect.

Mungiki claims to have thousands of adherents, all drawn from the Kikuyu, Kenya's largest tribe.

The violence comes at a tumultuous time in the Kenyan capital, where an explosion earlier this month killed one person and wounded more than 30 during rush hour. No one has claimed responsibility for the blast. In the past month, more than 50 people have been killed in a crime spree and police crackdown linked to Mungiki.

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