More than 100 killed in latest upsurge of Kenya violence

More than 100 killed in latest upsurge of   Kenya violence

( AFP ) - Kofi Annan on Sunday pushed for peace and talks between Kenya's feuding politicians as ethnic violence spread in western regions where the death toll from the past three days surpassed 100.

Nine people were killed as gangs of youths wreaked havoc in a slum district of the lakeside town Naivasha , an AFP correspondent there reported, raising the death toll in the western Rift Valley province since Thursday to 116.

The former UN chief, on his sixth day in Kenya Sunday, met in Nairobi with opposition leader Raila Odinga , who claims he was robbed of victory in last month's presidential election, as police gathered the charred and hacked remains of victims of the most recent clashes in the west.

Musalia Mudavadi , from Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement, said progress had been made towards preparing talks with President Mwai Kibaki , whose widely-contested re-election sparked the chaos.

"Our side and the other side will appoint three negotiators and an additional person as a liaison person," Mudavadi told journalists.

More than 850 people have been killed, according to an AFP tally of police and hospital figures, since the disputed December 27 election touched off a wave of deadly rioting and ethnic killings. Some 260,000 people across the country have been forced to flee their homes.

Latent ethnic and land disputes have fuelled revenge killings in western Kenya between Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe and members of the Luo and Kalenjin ethnic groups who supported Odinga .

Gangs armed with machetes and bows and arrows have led clashes throughout the western Rift Valley.

Police confirmed that an unspecified number of people had died in ethnic clashes between youths in Naivasha's Kabati slums Sunday.

"We have deaths," said local police commander Willy Lugusa .

An AFP correspondent there counted five charred bodies in houses, three others that had been hacked to death, and said one policeman had been accidentally shot dead by a colleague.

"It started when a group of about 100 youths divided into two groups," the police commander said. "One group blocked the road and started stoning motorists and another group attacked Kabati slums."

In Nakuru Sunday, many residents complained that the police were not doing enough to help them and said they were standing by as machete-wielding youths prepared for more battles.

"The police came here and ordered us to surrender our arms but are not doing anything to protect us. At the moment we are still insecure," said 22-year-old Cosmas Makori , whose house was burnt down in a Nakuru slum on Friday.

"The police shot my son as he was trying to rescue our belongings from our burning house. They have followed us into our camp and are harassing us saying that we are planning revenge attacks on the Kalenjins ," said a 69-year-old Kikuyu, Lucy Wanjiru , staying in a displacement camp.

On Sunday, trucks piled with luggage were seen transporting thousands of people who had fled their homes, and a new displacement camp was set up in the town's biggest sports stadium.

An overnight curfew still held, police said.

"The curfew is still in place until the security reverts back to normal," said Hassan Noor Hassan , Rift Valley provincial commissioner.

On Saturday, Annan said that unrest set off by Kibaki's disputed re-election last month had led to "gross and systematic" human rights abuses and called for an investigation.

"Impunity cannot be allowed to stand," he said, after visiting the violence-wracked Rift Valley with former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa and Graca Machel , wife of former South African president Nelson Mandela.

Annan , who has said the team will not stay in Kenya for "for months on end", on Thursday orchestrated a symbolic first meeting between Kibaki and Odinga , who shook hands, called for peace and hinted at a willingness to talk.

But the gesture, hailed internationally, was later undermined by further squabbling, with both sides maintaining their hardline positions.

The crisis has damaged the economy and shattered the east African nation's image as a beacon of stability in the region.

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