Violence claims five more lives in Kenya
Mediation fails to quell fear of voting fraud
NAIROBI - Police cracked down fiercely on a second day of protests across Kenya yesterday, firing bullets at opposition supporters and tear gas at a hospital. At least five people were killed.
The United States blamed President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga for the violent demonstrations and ethnic clashes that have killed more than 600 Kenyans since a disputed Dec. 27 presidential vote. Kibaki insists he won the election, but international and local observers say the vote count was rigged.
"It is beyond time for them to come together and open those channels of communication and focus all of their efforts on trying to reach a political accommodation," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
Frustrated by the failure of international mediation, which could not even get the two rivals to meet, Odinga called for three days of protests, which started Wednesday.
Throughout the country, the crowds were tiny compared to the tens of thousands of protesters who turned out in the week after the announcement that Kibaki had won another five-year term by a razor-thin margin.
Odinga accused the police of being "on a killing spree," but police spokesman Eric Kiraithe denied it.
"When will this end?" asked Alfrank Okoth as he nursed a bullet wound to the chest in Nairobi's Masaba Hospital. The 28-year-old said he was shot by police at the gate of his house in the city's biggest slum, Kibera.
Three others with bullet wounds were admitted, including Pastor Francis Ivayo. He said he was shielding a group of children near his church in Kibera when police fired from a train going through the slum, hitting him in the lower back.
Another man, shot through the neck, died in front of a reporter. No one knew his name.
His was among five deaths in Nairobi and the western city of Kisumu that reporters were able to confirm yesterday. Odinga said seven people were killed in Nairobi but offered no evidence.
"We are fighting and dying for Raila and Kibaki, and they don't even care for us," said Mary Atieno, 27, as she waited for protesters to stop throwing rocks so she could collect her children from school. "Only the ordinary man is suffering."
In Kisumu, an opposition stronghold some 185 miles from Nairobi, a morgue attendant said two bodies with bullet wounds were brought in yesterday, including that of a woman who witnesses said was shot by a bullet that pierced the corrugated iron wall of her home. They showed a reporter the bullet hole.
Five people were killed in Kisumu on Wednesday, including a 10-year-old boy.
Kiraithe, the police spokesman, said police shot and killed two "criminal" protesters elsewhere yesterday. He said one was in a group of about 50 young men who blocked a convoy of 42 petroleum tankers and tried to set them ablaze. The other killed was in "a group of criminals" who fired at police in Nairobi's Mathare slum, Kiraithe said.
In Mathare, a group of men chased police, hurling chunks of cement and brandishing machetes. Medics reported four people shot and two injured in other attacks in the slum.