Archive for the 'Eldoret' Category

SLDF Militia Shot Dead

“The SLDF is now the most powerful and best-armed militia group operating in the west,” ICG said. “Its hit-and-run attacks from the Mt Elgon forest are a major challenge for the authorities, who appear incapable of quelling the rebellion.

“The group is officially headed by a man called Wycliffe Matakwei Kirui Komon, but there is speculation the real leader is a newly elected ODM parliamentarian from the region, though he has denied any links.” From Irin “Kenya armed and dangerous”

Police have considered calling in the military to crack down on the Saboat Land Defense Forces who are blamed for a horrifying attack on a village which left 12 people dead including four children on 3rd March.

Choppers Pursue Mt Elgon Militia

5 March 2008
Posted to the web 4 March 2008

Robert Wanyonyi,Nairobi

The Government has launched the long-awaited ground-to-air operation against the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF) militiamen in Mt Elgon and Trans-Nzoia West districts.

It was a rare spectacle as two military choppers circled Mt Elgon forests in pursuit of the militiamen.

The fighting sparked off by the militia over the controversial Chebyuk settlement scheme, has, according to the Western Kenya Human Rights Watch, claimed 534 lives and displaced more than 40,000 people in the last one and a half years.

Yesterday, residents who have been living in fear, cheered as the choppers flew above Embakasi and Kisawai, the scene of a bloody attack that left 12 people, among them a two-month-old infant, dead.

The Rift Valley PPO, Mr Japheth Ashimallah, Trans-Nzoia West DC, Mr Francis Mutie, and senior provincial and district security officers were on the ground to co-ordinate the exercise.

The Rapid Deployment Unit, a special unit that had been dispatched to contain the SLDF militia, is given back up in the operation by regular and Administration Police.

“We will definitely record some progress in making sure that criminals do not continue visiting havoc on law-abiding citizens.

The security team is on the ground to ensure residents settle back on their farms,” Ashimallah assured Saboti MP, Mr Eugene Wamalwa, who was at the scene.

The PPO said he was co-ordinating the operation against the militiamen in liaison with his Western Province counterpart, Mr Francis Munyambu, to ensure that all porous points used by the militia to escape previous operations were sealed.

Though Ashimallah did not specify the progress made, confidential sources told The Standard two SLDF militias had been shot dead and several arrested only hours after the start of the operation.

Mutie announced that the Government had crucial information and names of some politicians believed to be funding the activities of the SLDF.

“We will not allow politicians to continue enjoying peace while at the same time cause innocent residents to suffer. Soon they will be arrested and arraigned in court,” warned Mutie.

He claimed that some school children were being lured into joining the militia group, which he said use traditional charms and magic to bind their members to their criminal activities.

He said some militiamen were involved in extorting money from residents in the name of protection fee and were the ones who turned around to kill and burn down houses of those who refused to yield to their demands.

Wamalwa said the Government ought to do enough to convince displaced people that security had been beefed up.

“While I welcome the commencement of the security operation, I still feel the Government has a lot of ground to cover before normal life resumes. The criminals have to be dealt with first,” said Wamalwa.

However, leaders from the local Anglican Church of Kenya opposed the police operation, saying innocent people might suffer.

Led by Mr Leonard Ndiema, the leaders claimed the security officers were torching houses and beating up women and children in the name of hunting down the SLDF.

Ndiema claimed the militia group that attacked Embakasi might have been part of the youths that were being given military training at the farm of former Saboti MP, Mr Davies Nakitare, who is now in the US.

“We are not against efforts to restore law and order in this region. But we don’t want to see the police apply the law selectively. Let all those arrested in connection with the training at the former MP’s farm be charged,” said Ndiema.

They further warned politicians against taking the matter lightly by calling for the release of the 205 youths who were arrested at Nakitare’s farm.

Ford-Kenya Chairman, Mr Musikari Kombo, and former Kanduyi MP, Mr Wafula Wamunyinyi, last weekend called for the release of the suspects, saying they were to be used as game rangers at Nakitare’s expansive Delta Crescent farm, known worldwide as a tourism attraction site.

Police have issued a warrant for the arrest of Davies Nakitare who it is claimed lives in the US. Will the US rescind his visa I wonder…


Cycles of revenge

Here is a report on how Luos in Limuru have been targeted by Kikuyu since Kikuyus were displaced in the Rift Valley. Many have fled to Limuru and are exacting revenge on Luos.

It’s because of the Kikuyus from Rift Valley who have fled [post-election violence]. Many have come this way. So they [Kikuyus in Limuru] now have a reason to attack us [Luos]. They are like, ‘let them go because our people are suffering there [in Rift Valley]’

TIGONI, 11 January 2008 (IRIN) – Susan Ouma sat on the wooden frame of her sofa, smiling down at her three-week-old daughter, Mary Akinyi, tightly wrapped in an orange blanket despite the blazing January sun.

Ouma was clearly relieved to have found sanctuary after a week of terrifying attacks which forced her to sleep out in the fields where she had been picking tea leaves for Unilever’s Mabrook farm.

Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) worker Zion Kibe Kangethe wrote down her details. The arrival of Ouma and her five children took the number of displaced people camping out behind Tigoni police station, 35km northwest of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, to 400.

“Numbers have gone down from earlier this week. We had 800 people. But we are still having new arrivals,” Kangethe said.

Ouma explained why she had loaded all her possessions on to a donkey cart and travelled to this makeshift camp.

“For the last week, a mob of young men have been coming to our houses. There were so many you couldn’t count them. They had machetes and they threw stones. They were smashing our houses. They came every night,” she said.

“I didn’t have the strength to walk after having my baby and she’s so small. So we slept outside in the tea fields. In the day we would go back to our house.”

Ouma, like many of the workers at the tea factory, is not from Tigoni, having moved from Siaya in western Kenya to find work. Ouma is a Luo, as is opposition leader Raila Odinga, while most people in Tigoni’s Central Province are Kikuyus, like President Mwai Kibaki.

Conflict has broken out in many parts of Kenya since the announcement of disputed election results on 30 December, which saw the incumbent Kibaki return to power amid allegations of vote rigging.

Thousands of Kikuyus fled Rift Valley Province after attacks by the dominant Kalenjin community. Many came to Central Province. This seems to have triggered off revenge attacks there by young Kikuyu men on perceived outsiders from the Luo, Luhya and Kalenjin ethnic groups.

The field behind Tigoni police station is busy. Women and children cluster around; some eat plates of beans, cooked by local volunteers in giant saucepans. Others wash clothes in buckets or plait each other’s hair. Many just sit and stare numbly into the distance.

Beatrice Chepkoech, a 20-year-old mother of three, was waiting to see a nurse from nearby Tigoni hospital who had set up a clinic under a tree. She held her nine-month-old baby, Samuel, who had developed a swelling on his head.

Chepkoech is a Kalenjin from Eldoret in Rift Valley Province. She moved to the nearby town of Limuru last year where her husband found work in the Bata shoe factory.

Tension started brewing in the lead-up to the elections. Chepkoech heard rumours that Luyhas and Luos would be chased out of Limuru if the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) won. The ODM did not win but violence erupted nonetheless.

“On Sunday at about 6pm, a mob of young Kikuyu men came into people’s houses. There were about a hundred of them. They had machetes and clubs and were throwing stones and smashing the houses. They were chanting, ‘Those ones. Those ones. Chase them away’,” Chepkoech explained.

“We all ran to the railway station, except for the Kikuyus who stayed behind. There were hundreds of people there. We slept on the ground. It was icy cold. We didn’t sleep much. We were just praying. There was no food. The children were crying because they were hungry.”

Chepkoech spent two nights at the railway station before coming to the police station, where food, water, blankets and basic medical care were available. The KRCS erected three huge tents for the women and children, while the men slept outside.

After a few days, Chepkoech returned home to pick up her possessions but her house had been looted. Her bed, mattress and blankets had been stolen. Only the sofa base, one jerry can and a few clothes remained.

The family now want to move to Eldoret.

“I don’t want to stay in Limuru. I’m scared the same thing will happen again. The children should be going back to school next week. We want to go home and take them to school there but we don’t have money for transport,” said Chepkoech.

Chepkoech’s husband has found casual work in the Mabrook tea farm where he is paid about 50 shillings a day. With such a small income, it will be difficult to save the 2,500 shillings (US$37) they need to travel to Eldoret.

Paul Otieno, 35, has a similar problem. He wants to return to Kisumu in western Kenya, with his wife and two children, but the garage where he worked as a mechanic has closed down since the elections. His employer, also a Luo, has moved to Kisumu. Otieno says he’s scared to even look for work in Nairobi, which also has a large Kikuyu population, because the people there are “very fierce”.

Night commuters

About 100 people have become “night commuters”, continuing with their normal jobs during the day and then coming to sleep in the camp at night.

A spokeswoman for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Sara Cameron, said this phenomenon was not unique to Tigoni.

“In a situation that is far more reminiscent of northern Uganda than Kenya, many people in different parts of the country are going to police stations to sleep for the night, because they are afraid of attack,” she said.

At Tigoni Police Station, everyone is waiting. A local Kikuyu businessman tours the field chatting to people. He has brought maize flour for the displaced.

A local councillor, who refused to give her name “because they’ll slaughter me”, has also come to check on the relief operation. She believes that even if the displaced people do go to their places of origin, the problems will not end there.

“What they are saying is they’ll go home and face any problems so long as they’re doing their own things without people from other communities going there for commercial reasons or whatever. This revenge is going in circles,” she said.

“You can’t have stability with injustice. It was daylight robbery,” she said, referring to the election result. “You must have true justice to have peace. It’s like you want to cover an injury before you clean it. It will definitely get contaminated and might result in cutting off one of your limbs.”

There is also a good piece of writing on the origins of the land issue which is one of the problems underpinning the current crisis in Kenya here.

More details on Eldoret militias

Rights official alleges politicians on both sides paid, directed militias

Sunday, January 13, 2008 3:13 AM
By Michelle Faul
Associated Press

Kenyan police patrol the Nairobi slum of Mathare, where clashes broke out recently amid a presidential vote-count dispute. A report on the violence is scheduled to be released this week.
NAIROBI, Kenya — The price for burning down a home: 500 shillings, or about $8. Double that to have someone hacked to death.

The price list comes from a leading Kenyan human-rights group that says some of the worst violence in the country’s disputed presidential election is the work of militias paid and directed by politicians.

The government of President Mwai Kibaki and the opposition have traded blame for the killing and arson that followed Kibaki’s victory in the Dec. 27 election, which international observers say was followed by a rigged count. Some of the attacks took on an ugly ethnic twist, with other tribes turning on Kibaki’s Kikuyu people.

But the respected and independent Kenyan Human Rights Commission says there is more to it, and that it appears to involve politicians on both sides. It “was portrayed as some primal irate rising up of (ethnic) communities against each other,” commission Chairwoman Muthoni Wanyeki said. “But our investigations indicate it seems to be very organized militia activity … (the violence) very much seems to be directed and well-organized.”

She pointed to the torching of a church sheltering Kikuyu, dozens of whom burned to death. “One group was watching the church, and then another took over,” Wanyeki said. “We say it’s organized because they are working in groups of 10 to 15 people and in shifts.

“Their training areas have been identified, some of the people from whom they get money have been identified,” she said. “They are being paid 500 per burning and 1,000 per death.”

The information, she said, comes from about 100 monitors and a network including prominent individuals and community-based organizations given pre-election training in researching human-rights violations.

She said information is being compiled in a report to be published this week and given to the state-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights for investigation by appropriate authorities.

The state-funded commission, as well as a bishop and a police superintendent, agree that a lot of the violence seemed orchestrated. However, they stop short of alleging that money changed hands, and both camps vying for the presidency strongly deny it.

Gangs wielding bows and arrows, machetes and stones killed scores of people in the central Rift Valley. They set ablaze hundreds of buildings, forcing more than 100,000 people, most of them Kikuyu, from their homes and farms. Victims have identified their attackers as ethnic Kalenjin and members of opposition leader Raila Odinga’s Luo tribe.

Odinga’s spokesman, Salim Lone, said the charges of payment are “wild propaganda.”

“I cannot categorically say that no politician is doing that,” he said, referring to paying militias, but he bristled at the suggestion that his party, having denounced the violence, could at the same time be fomenting it.

Odinga says Kibaki must take the blame because the violence was ignited by the theft of the election.

Maina Kiai, chairman of the state-funded human-rights body, said that in response to attacks on Kikuyu, government politicians have recruited the Mungiki, a Kikuyu gang blamed for a string of beheadings carried out in Nairobi’s slums this year. Kiai said the government has promised Mungiki immunity in return for protecting the Kikuyu. He said his information came from several sources, including Mungiki members.

Government spokesman Alfred Mutua said Kiai’s charge is “preposterous. There is no truth to it.” He accused Kiai of being partisan and challenged him to produce evidence.

Wanyeki, of the independent human-rights group, said some Mungiki have been deployed in recent days to the troubled western towns of Eldoret — where the church was torched — and Kisumu.

The police superintendent of Kisumu, Simon Kiragu, agreed the violence was orchestrated.

“Of course it was organized. The trouble started not even 15 minutes after the announcement” of the election results, he said. “It was like a time bomb, and it happened all over the country.”

Villagers say fliers told Kikuyus to get out of town

  • William Ruto named as instigator behind politically motivated ethnic cleansing.
  • Witnesses say the men were given 500 Kenyan shillings (about $7) to torch a house and sometimes more to kill a man.
  • The attackers relied on neighbors of their victims to point out the homes to be torched.
  • Some homes had been marked with paint. Those belonging to Kikuyus were destroyed; those belonging to others were left standing.

Kenya killings raise specter of wider ethnic bloodbath

By Nick Wadhams

Sunday, January 13, 2008

MOLO, Kenya — David Njenga remembers how the attackers arrived on trucks just after New Year’s Day and set fire to his village’s thatch-roofed houses. The young and the fast, including Njenga, managed to hide. Watching from behind a bush, he saw four old men hacked to death with machetes.

“They were killed as I watched,” Njenga recalled from a church in Molo, where hundreds of people fled from the violence that has hit Kenya since Dec. 27’s disputed election. “They killed the old people, those who could not run away. We ran away; we left those old men, so they killed them.”

Children play at a church that has been turned into a refugee camp for at least 8,000 people in Eldoret, Kenya. Unrest began after last month’s presidential election.

Stories like Njenga’s have become common in Molo and several other towns across western Kenya since President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of a vote that international observers have said was flawed.

The tribal nature of the violence has raised fears of a Rwanda-style genocide.

“We’ve had a long history of ethnic violence in Kenya that has been politically manipulated since the 1992 and 1997 elections,” said Binaifer Nowrojee, director of the Open Society Initiative for East Africa. “Events of the last two weeks show how rapidly we can deteriorate, and that’s what’s scaring everybody. The danger is that we can become Rwanda, but we’re not there yet.”

Opposition leaders in Kenya have described the violence as a spontaneous outburst from people furious about the election.

However, interviews with dozens of people such as Njenga, as well as politicians, humanitarian workers and church officials, suggest that much of the violence, which has killed at least 500 people, was planned beforehand.

Attacks like the one witnessed by Njenga have exposed some of the deep fault lines in Kenyan society that had largely been ignored by the outside world as the country emerged from 24 years of autocracy under President Daniel arap Moi, who long exploited ethnic divisions among Kenya’s 42 tribes to retain power.

North of Molo, in the Rift Valley town of Eldoret, at least 100,000 people have fled their homes because of the recent violence.

Most of the victims in the area are members of Kibaki’s Kikuyu ethnic group. The president has been accused of favoritism, bestowing jobs and land upon Kikuyus.

The attackers are supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga and come from several other Kenyan tribes. Around Molo, they are mostly ethnic Luo and Kalenjin, who say they have been shortchanged for decades.

Villagers say fliers that told Kikuyus to get out of town were scattered near their homes.

Then, young men arrived by truck and fanned out, ready for violence.

Witnesses say the men were given 500 Kenyan shillings (about $7) to torch a house and sometimes more to kill a man.

The attackers relied on neighbors of their victims to point out the homes to be torched.

Some homes had been marked with paint. Those belonging to Kikuyus were destroyed; those belonging to others were left standing.

“They started spreading leaflets saying the Kikuyus had 24 hours to go,” said Sammy Kamau, a 29-year-old high school teacher who voted for Kibaki. “My house was burned.”

“Before the elections, we were told that people will be chased away from the region,” said Waiharo Kimani, 37, who had fled his home near the town of Keringet. “So when the president won, they took that as a reason to push us away. It was planned years before.”

One of the main instigators, witnesses say, was a man named William Ruto, a key adviser to Odinga.

They say he held rallies before the election and told his supporters to kick out Kikuyus if his party lost.

Ruto has also been cited by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights as someone who should be prosecuted for propagating hate speech.

At a news conference, Ruto said he thought that the key issue of the election was the equitable distribution of resources but denied inciting ethnic violence.

“I consider anybody who says that we did say anything to the effect that anybody should leave their homes absolute rubbish because there are no statements that we made along that line,” Ruto said.

Samuel Ciuga, 40, is the pastor of the Apostolic Faith Church in Molo. At least 250 people have been living in his church compound for weeks after fleeing election-related violence.

Ciuga saw the same thing during elections in 1992, 1997 and 2002.

Each time, the church opened its doors to those fleeing the violence.

“This church is like the home of the refugees,” Ciuga said. “Even our members, most of them are refugees.”
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Corpses litter Kenyan village

“As soon as the results came out, it was chaos. No one had to say to go to war (against the Kikuyu)”

By Beatrice Debut, AFP

KOILUGET, Kenya – In the remote west Kenyan village of Koiluget, a deadly attack by a rival ethnic group just over a week ago left behind more than just twisted sheet metal and charred walls – rotting corpses still litter the corn fields.

Eight days after the Koiluget raid – whose name in Swahili is the tragically inappropriate “land of peace” – wisps of smoke still smoulder from the houses.

No official death toll from the attack has been produced, but a corpse, its face slashed and swollen, still lies on one of the tracks in the village.

Another cadaver, rotting but with a hand still pointing into the air, lies among trampled down ears of corn. Barely 10 metres away, a peasant picks the crop.

Dozens of inhabitants, all of them ethnic Kikuyu, disappeared in the attack – they are either dead or they fled, according to witnesses.

Regardless, some men continue farming the cornfields between still-smoking huts, whilst others pile charred wood from burned-out homes into the trailer of a tractor.

They say that people from the surrounding hills belonging to other ethnic groups, principally the Kalenjin, were behind the raid on the village on December 30.

The attack took place immediately after the announcement of results of the Kenyan presidential election, officially won by the incumbent head of state Mwai Kibaki, a Kikuyu, and which has plunged the country into a dizzying cycle of violence in the past few days.

“As soon as the results came out, it was chaos. No one had to say to go to war (against the Kikuyu),” says Joseph, a 50-year-old Kalenjin.

“It was so surprising to hear that Kibaki had won,” he explains, leaning on a large staff.

The ethnic Kikuyu had massively backed the president during the election, which was sullied by numerous irregularities according to international observers.

His main rival, Raila Odinga, was for his part largely reliant on the Luo, Luyha and Kalenjin groups, whose fiefdom is the west of the country.

“We followed the Kikuyu to make sure they were going to Brunt Forest,” a small village an hour away down a track, recalls Job, a 30-year old Luyha – before correcting himself: “They followed them.” “If they got hold of a Kikuyu, they lashed him a panga machete,” he added, as he scavenged from the cornfields.

“It is the responsibility of the government to clear the bodies,” says Elijah, a Kalenjin, who rents a small patch of land on which have been abandoned a bible, a voter registration card belonging to a Kikuyu and a few clothes.

In just a few days of inter-communal violence, thousands of homes and businesses were looted across the country, and at least 600 were killed.

Since Friday a precarious calm has descended on the country, whilst the international community presses for a political solution.

Could the Kikuyu return to Koiluget? “There are no Kikuyus left – there are only corpses,” says William, holding a metal spear, to sniggering laughs from a gang of local men.

Update on Eldoret Massacre

From the Guardian:

The Catholic bishop of the town where dozens died when a mob torched a refugee-filled church said Tuesday that the attacks against members of Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe appeared planned and organized.

Bishop Cornelius Korir spoke in western Eldoret, scene of the fiery massacre of Kikuyu. Eldoret and surrounding areas have seen an exodus of Kikuyus since. The violence across the country has killed some 500 people.

“The way the attacks were managed seems to me very organized,” Korir said as the U.S. envoy, Jendayi Frazer, toured the region Tuesday. “No, it did not seem spontaneous to me … It seems it was well planned.”

He did not elaborate.

A country in turmoil

Joseph Karoki has posted heart-breaking photos of toddlers bodies piled together in the Nairobi mortuary on his blog.

Never, never, never did I think we would be witnessing such horrifying scenes in Kenya today! A Political solution is needed right now. Admit the election was rigged and let Odinga go to Kibera to talk to his supporters there and beg them to stop killing one another now.

BBC News 24 is showing scenes of Kenyans displaced in Eldoret outside this church. 100,000 people have been displaced.
The Red Cross is distributing food to the people sheltering here. These people did nothing to bring this upon themselves while two big men in Nairobi are playing games.

People are being escorted from Burnt Forest under police guard. The police look very stretched. What can be done to stop this other than getting Kenyan troops out to Rift Valley now?

Look at these homes which have been flattened ensuring that these people can never return to their homesteads! Tell me this is not being instigated by some very sinister people who want the Kikuyu out!
Who gains from this displacement? Accusing fingers are pointing at one William Ruto who earlier in the year was accused of financing militias in the Rift Valley area.

People walk through an area that was razed to the ground in Kibera.