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At least 10 killed in day of Kenya protests

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NAIROBI - At least 10 people were killed in Kenya on Friday when police opened fire on protesters and rival ethnic groups clashed in violence caused by a disputed election.

In a third and final day of protests called by opposition leader Raila Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), police fired tear gas and live rounds in Nairobi, Mombasa port and the southern town of Narok, at demonstrators angry over President Mwai Kibaki's disputed re-election.

An opposition protester taunts the riot police in front of a burning roadblock in Nairobi's Kibera slum, January 18, 2008. At least 10 people were killed in Kenya on Friday when police opened fire on protesters and rival ethnic groups clashed in violence caused by a disputed election. (REUTERS/Noor Khamis)

At least 18 people have been confirmed killed in the three days of protests. The opposition and human rights organisations accuse the police of using excessive force and firing indiscriminately at unarmed protesters.

The police say they have only shot at rioters and looters.

The worst violence was in Nairobi's Kibera slum, an opposition stronghold, where police fired volleys of automatic shots. Police fired tear gas at Muslim protesters in the capital and Mombasa as they marched from mosques after Friday prayers.

In Kibera, a Reuters reporter saw police shooting protesters. One man in a red baseball cap and black T-shirt dropped to the ground, blood gushing from his knee.

Reuters journalists counted six dead bodies in Kibera, including a man with the back of his head blown off and a young woman, said by her father to be 15, carried to a hospital morgue in a pickup truck.

Protesters built a burning barricade in the slum, and boys hiding in shacks and firing stones from slingshots played a cat-and-mouse game with police.

"They were trying to uproot railways lines. The police came to stop them and started shooting. They started howling and running away," said James Muga, an unemployed 45-year-old as repeated bursts of automatic gunfire rang out.

At least 11 wounded people were brought to a nearby hospital. "We need more doctors because the number of doctors we have cannot handle an emergency of this magnitude," said a medical official who gave his name only as Joe.

Outside the hospital a crowd shouted: "Murderers and killers."


In southwest Kenya, a senior government official said four people were killed on Friday in clashes between Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe and Maasai anti-government protesters in Narok town, gateway to the Maasai Mara game reserve.

"The bodies of the four victims bore deep arrow and panga (machete) wounds," Andrew Rukaria, Narok North district commissioner, told Reuters.

Maasai and Kikuyu had been fighting in the area since Thursday with homes and shops burned and at least 23 wounded, the police said. Riot police had to be sent in to clear barricades erected by Maasais, a Reuters journalist said.

The opposition said police fatally shot two protesters in Mombasa, Kenya's Indian Ocean port. Officials could not confirm the deaths.

Kenya's swift slide into crisis has dented its democratic credentials, horrified world powers, scared off tourists and hurt one of Africa's most promising economies.

Kibaki's disputed victory unleashed a wave of political and ethnic violence, in which more than 600 people have died and around 250,000 fled their homes.

A statement by envoys from nine countries including Britain, the Netherlands and Australia, urged Kibaki and Odinga to meet for direct talks without delay or preconditions, and called on Kenya's security forces to show restraint.

"We have seen clear and disturbing footage of the use of lethal force on unarmed demonstrators," it said.

Protests also resumed on Friday in the western opposition stronghold of Kisumu, where more than 300 youths set fire to a fuel tanker to block the road. But it was quieter in the city than on previous days when police shot several protesters.

ODM said earlier it would call off street protests after Friday and switch its campaign to small strikes and boycotts of companies run by Kibaki allies.


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