, NAIROBI, Kenya Dec 13 – Two hawkers were killed and four others – including a policeman injured in a violent confrontation in downtown Nairobi on Thursday.
The chaos reigned on River Road, Kirinyaga Road and surrounding areas for the better part of the afternoon when council askaris started arresting hawkers on the streets.
“There are two hawkers who have been killed. One died on the spot while the other was pronounced dead on the way to hospital,” a police officer involved in the operation said.
He did not immediately confirm if the two were felled by police bullets.
Nairobi Provincial Police Chief Moses Nyakwama said circumstances under which the hawkers were killed remains unclear, although witnesses insisted they were all shot.
“An investigation will be carried out. All deaths are investigated and that is when we will be able to know what exactly happened,” he said.
During the confrontation, shop owners and pedestrians reported loss of goods and valuables after criminals took advantage of the bedlam.
Several shots were fired in the air during the confrontation – with some witnesses claiming the police were shooting into the crowds – raising fears many more people may have been wounded in the fracas.
Police and city council officials have vowed to keep hawkers off the streets, particularly during the festive season when they normally try to take advantage of increased consumer demand.