Fresh deaths in Kenya sect riots

BBC News/April 15, 2008

Kenyan police have shot dead two members of the banned Mungiki sect in the capital, Nairobi.

Police opened fire as youths stoned cars, torched a garage and a minibus taxi, bringing the total deaths to 14 since the riots began on Monday.

The latest protests were sparked by the discovery of the beheaded body of the wife of the sect's leader.

The police say they are investigating the murder. The Mungiki accuse the police of killing its members.

Last year, more than 100 suspected sect members were killed in a police crackdown after a series of grisly beheadings blamed on the Mungiki.

Other reports claim that a leadership dispute has emerged within the sect following the imprisonment of its spiritual leader Maina Njenga two years ago.


More than 50 people have been arrested following Tuesday's clashes, police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said.

Mungiki spokesman Njuguna Gitau Njuguna said they have been angered by police brutality.

He said the banned group wanted a special police unit, set up to counter the sect, to be disbanded.

But Mr Kiraithe described Mungiki members as criminals who will face the full force of the law.

"We have intensified patrols across the city and the criminal elements will not be allowed to continue causing havoc," Mr Kiraithe told BBC News website.

The Mungiki sect, which first emerged in the 1980s, is said to have been initially inspired by the Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950s against British colonial rule.

But since then it is said to have undergone a metamorphosis, and is now likened to Kenya's version of the Mafia.

The group is accused of running protection racket that squeeze millions of Kenyan shillings from the minibus network that is the backbone of public transport in Kenya.

There are claims that influential politicians have been backing the activities of the group drawn from the majority Kikuyu ethnic group.

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