Apr 14, 2008

12 killed as banned Kenyan sect protests: police

April 14, 2008

NAIROBI (AFP) — At least 12 people were killed Monday in a series of clashes involving Kenyan police and members of a banned Kenyan sect protesting over the killing of their imprisoned leader's wife.

Police said five people were killed in Nairobi, four in central Kenya and three others in the Rift Valley region where members of theMungiki sect were blocking roads and stoning motorists.

Nine of those killed were Mungiki members shot dead by police, while the three others were reportedly civilians caught up in the violence, police officials said.

"We have things under control and have deployed security forces across the country to ensure that peace prevails," national police spokesman Eric Kiraithe told AFP.

"We assure the public that peace will be restored and all these hooligans brought to book," he added.

The Mungiki sect was once a religious group of dreadlocked youths who embraced traditional rituals, but the authorities say it has evolved into a ruthless criminal gang involved in extortion and murder.

The Mungiki members were protesting the killing of Virginia Nyakio, the wife of imprisoned sect leader Maina Njenga. Nyakio'smutilated body was recovered on Friday -- three days after she was seized by unknown kidnappers.

Since March last year, the Mungiki gang has been blamed for murdering dozens of people, including several beheadings, mainly in the slum districts of the capital Nairobi and in central Kenya.

Police responded with a crackdown in which they have killed scores of gang members.


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