Mungiki tensions continue

April 17, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, April 17 – Tension is high in Nairobi and various parts of Central and Rift Valley Provinces amid fresh threats issued by the outlawed Mungiki sect.

In Nairobi’s Dagoretti area police shot and killed a suspected sect member.

The man was among his colleagues who were stoning cars and at some point had even tried to car-jack a motorist.

Police have also dispersed Mungiki members who had blocked cars at the Lunga Lunga slum after the new Cabinet was sworn-in.

Several Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) were pulled off the roads and a number of businesses remained shut, amid threats that they would either be burnt down or heavily fined.

As a result, commuters had to walk long distances to their places of work for the fourth day running.

The dreaded cult came on the scene in the wee hours of Monday morning, setting up roadblocks, lighting bon-fires, burning cars and hacking people to death.

More than 30 vehicles, most of them matatus, were burnt in petrol stations where they had been parked for the night, while other residents were pulled out of their automobiles and watched helplessly as their cars were ransacked and then set ablaze.

Police officers who were dispatched to contain the chaos hit back and shot down about 12 suspects, out of the 18 who have died so far since Monday.

In Nakuru, some matatu operators withdrew their vehicles from several routes after receiving threats from members of the Mungiki sect.

PSVs plying the Nakuru-Njoro-Mau Narok route suspended their daily trips after skirmishes erupted at the Mutukano-Kihingo area, where suspected Mungiki followers stoned vehicles at the trading centre at about 10am.

Area police commander Francio Nyamatari however assured that his officers were on high alert and ready to face the sect members.

In Molo district, tension was high at Kiambiriria village – home of former Mungiki National Coordinator Ndura Waruinge – after word went round that a faction of the sect was planning to attack the family.

Waruinge backed out of the sect last year.

In Murang’a meanwhile, shopkeepers who defied orders not to open their businesses were being fined up to Sh10, 000.

Police sources said another squad had been formed after a meeting of senior security officers at the police headquarters in Nairobi, to start tracking down those behind the riots.

The new squad will be backed by the Kwekwe and Rhino squads, which have been tasked with the responsibility of weeding out the sect.

Mungiki members began rioting to protest the killing of their founding chairman Maina Njenga’s wife, Virginia Nyakio.

They accused police of committing the murder and demanded the disbandment of the Kwekwe squad, accusing it of being involved in extrajudicial killings.

Several leaders have urged the Mungiki to back down and state their grievances, but issuing a ministerial statement in Parliament on Wednesday, the Internal Security Minister George Saitoti said they would not negotiate with the sect.

Saitoti promised that state forces would clamp down on the illegal outfit through a police crack-down.

On Thursday morning, the Police spokesman Erick Kiraithe assured anxious Kenyans of their security, urging them to go about their work as normal and disregard threats of attack.

He said officers were on patrol round the clock to safeguard life and property, and called on civilians to work with the force to identify members of the outlawed gang.


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