KISUMU, Kenya (AP) – Gunmen killed an opposition
lawmaker in Nairobi early Tuesday, an attack that almost
immediately stoked the ethnic fighting that has gripped Kenya
since last month's disputed presidential election.
As with the gangs that have killed rivals and
torched homes in western Kenya, groups of armed youths began
gathering after the shooting in the capital's Mathare and Kibera
slums. Since the Dec. 27 election, the death toll has soared
Two gunmen shot opposition lawmaker Mugabe Were
as he drove to his house in suburban Nairobi, police said,
adding they did not yet know if the political turmoil had
motivated the slaying.
"We are treating it as a murder but we are not
ruling out anything, including political motives," Kenyan police
spokesman Eric Kiraithe said. "We are urging everyone to remain
But a resident of Kibera, Teddy Njoroge, said
houses were being set ablaze near a railway that generally
divides members of President Mwai Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe from
inhabitants of opposition leader Raila Odinga's Luo ethnic
group. Flames and smoke rose from one area of Kibera.
"They have decided to revenge this MP," Njoroge
said of the member of parliament.
Were was among a slew of opposition members who
won seats in the December legislative vote, held at the same
time as the presidential election.
The killing came as thousands of
machete-wielding youths from both Kikuyu and Luo tribes hunted
each other down in western Kenya's Rift Valley, burning homes,
blocking roads with blazing tires and clashing with police who
In Kisumu town, where columns of smoke rose from
burning homes on Monday, police took away one charred body.
"We didn't waste time, we had to kill him," said
Stanley Ochieng, 25. He said they stoned the man, slashed him
with machetes, then threw him to burn on their roadblock of
burning tires because he was Kikuyu.
Hundreds of machete-wielding youths lobbed
stones Tuesday at police, who responded by firing live bullets
into the air.
On Monday in Kisumu, witnesses described seeing
two people pulled from cars and stoned to death, while another
was burned alive in a minibus.
"The road is covered in blood. It's chaos. Luos
are hunting Kikuyus for revenge," said Baraka Karama, a
journalist for independent Kenya Television in Kisumu.
The Rift Valley is home to the Kalenjin and
Masai ethnic groups. British colonizers seized large tracts of
land to cultivate fertile farms there. After independence in
1963, President Jomo Kenyatta flooded reclaimed farmlands with
his Kikuyu people, creating deep-seated resentment that exists
to this day.
Kikuyus also are resented for their domination
of politics and the economy, a success cemented by endemic
corruption and a patronage system where politicians favor their
own ethnic group.
More than half the 255,000 people driven from
their homes this month have been Kikuyus displaced in the
fertile Rift Valley, an area famous for its farmland and
wildlife frequented by tourists.
Kibaki and Odinga blame each other for the
violence, trading accusations of "ethnic cleansing." Human
rights groups and officials charge it has become organized.
"What is so alarming about the last few days is
... there's evidently hidden hands organizing it now," Britain's
visiting minister for Africa, Mark Malloch-Brown, told reporters
He spoke after meetings with Odinga, Kibaki and
their mediator, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Annan announced in a statement released Tuesday
that the "dialogue process" to help resolve the deadly dispute
will start Monday.
Kibaki and Odinga had been asked to name three
negotiators each to participate in the talks. They are under
international pressure to form a power-sharing government.
In the past, Kibaki has said he is open to
direct talks with Odinga but that his position as president is
not negotiable. Odinga says Kibaki must step down and only new
elections will bring peace.
In Naivasha, Kenya's flower-exporting capital on
a freshwater lake inhabited by pink flamingoes, thousands of
Kikuyus smashed shop windows with rocks and began looting. A
handful of police fired into the air but were unable to control
the mob of about 5,000.
Outside Naivasha Country Club, police were
trying to rescue hundreds of Luos trapped by Kikuyus armed with
machetes and clubs inset with nails.
"We're trapped," said Rose Achieng, who fled
with her two children when looters ransacked her home Sunday.
She and hundreds others had sought refuge next to the police
station, beside the road outside the country club.
Police, apparently worried they could not
protect them, started ferrying them in trucks to the town's
walled prison compound, where more than 1,000 refugees already
"If you stay we will kill you," Kikuyus yelled.
When they surged forward, brandishing machetes, police fired
into the air.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said
Kenya has "gone from bad to worse, in terms of the violence."
European Union foreign ministers issued a
statement indicating development aid could be pulled if Odinga
and Kibaki don't agree to a power-sharing pact. But only about 6
percent of Kenya's budget comes form foreign aid, and the
government has said it will not be blackmailed.