Kenyan police accused of killings, arson
(AP) - Noor Adam begged police to spare his children as he lay bleeding from a bullet wound in front of his shop but they set fire to his store anyway, burning to death his 7-year-old daughter and teenage son inside.
The Nairobi shopkeeper says he was targeted by police from a rival tribe - underscoring how riots that began as opposition protests have sent simmering ethnic tensions boiling over and how some police appear to have fueled rather than tamped the violence.More than two dozen Kenyan civil organizations say police have taken to using extraordinary force, and in some cases carried out extrajudicial executions, in the face of riots sparked by anger over alleged election fraud. Police deny the accusations.
The unrest began when supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga accused President Mwai Kibaki of rigging the Dec. 27 vote but soon exploded into widespread ethnic clashes, pulling in many more than Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe and Odinga's Luo, and leaving more than 300 people dead.
Adam, a member of the Luhya tribe who have largely backed opposition leader Odinga, said he was sleeping in his shop with his daughter Saida and his 17-year-old son, Rashid, when the police from a different tribe arrived on Dec. 29.
"When I showed my ID, they said, 'He's from the Luhya community ... Shoot him,'" Adam said.
The police shot him in the leg, then turned their attention to his shop.
"I saw the police set the shop on fire. I told them I had children inside," said Adam who was being treated Saturday for an infected bullet wound at the Makina clinic in Nairobi's Kibera slum.
He said he couldn't bear to go back home to sift through the ashes for the bones of his children.
"I can never go back. I want to leave this country," he said, weeping. "They (police) are supposed to protect us."
Police commissioner Hussein Ali initially refused to answer questions about police shootings at a news conference Sunday, finally insisting, "We have not shot anyone."
But 23 civil organizations, including the state-funded Kenyan National Commission of Human Rights, said "one of the forms that violence has taken is in the extraordinary use of force by Kenya's police force ... to the extent of extrajudicial executions."
New York-based Human Rights Watch said opposition protests were met with excessive police force.
Wilfred Arende, 25, sat at the Makina clinic covered in dried blood. He said police picked him up Friday night after he left his house, which was near a group of protesters. They beat him for an hour with sticks and fists then, then urged a nearby crowd of men to attack him.
The crowd attacked him while the police watched, he said, showing deep wounds on his head and forearm. He said he survived by pretending to be dead.
Andrew Otieno, a medic at the Makina clinic, said about half the victims they have treated said they were injured by police.
On Saturday, an Associated Press Television cameraman watched police fire on a machete-wielding crowd that had seriously injured three men. One man was shot in the head and died.
In Kisumu, about 200 miles west of Nairobi, a morgue attendant said there were 46 bodies with bullet wounds, all shot multiple times and many in the back. The attendant asked that his name not be used because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Maina Kiai, chairman of the Kenyan National Commission of Human Rights, told The Associated Press his organization had reports of 100 or more civilians shot in Kisumu, a stronghold of Odinga where protesters were attacked by police.
"We are investigating but our assumption is that they were shot by police," Kiai said. "The shootings come from police, generally speaking, because the protesters do not have guns."