24 killed in Kenya clashes

April 22nd, 2009 - 8:46 am ICT by IANS  

Nairobi, April 22 (Xinhua) At least 24 people have been killed in clashes between the members of a banned group and villagers in central Kenya, police confirmed on Tuesday.
The clashes, initially confined to Kirinyaga district of Kenya’s Central Province for the past week, escalated when suspected followers of the Mungiki sect attacked a minibus in Kagio area, a police statement said.

The Mungikis were avenging killings of their sect members in Kirinyaga last week. After the attack people crossed over to neighboring Karatina to confront the sect members, who have been extorting money from the residents.

“Police moved to the scene immediately and commenced investigations. So far investigators have confirmed that 24 people have been killed and three have been seriously injured,” police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said.

He said 37 suspects have been arrested and assorted crude weapons, including machetes, axes and clubs have also been recovered. The police spokesman said investigations have been launched to identify, arrest and prosecute all the people involved in these murders.

The Mungiki sect, which was banned in 2002, advocates a return to tribal traditions and customs. Most of its members are from Kenya’s largest tribe, the Kikuyu.

In 2007 more than 100 suspected sect members were killed in a police crackdown after a series of grisly beheadings blamed on the sect.

Last year it was accused of carrying out revenge attacks after ethnic Kikuyus were killed by rival gangs in post-election violence.

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