Kenya police killed 35 in August poll violence: rights group

Picture: AFP
Picture: AFP

Nairobi - Thirty-seven people were killed after Kenya's August elections, and all but two of the cases were caused by "excessive" force by police, a human rights watchdog said on Monday.

Previous tolls from the disputed elections - since annulled by the Supreme Court - had not exceeded 24, and until now there were few details into how the deaths occurred.

In a 262-page report, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) said 35 of 37 deaths it documented between August 9-15, were due to "excessive use of force by police".

The remaining two were due to "civilian aggression".

The August 8 presidential poll has been cancelled by Kenya's paramount court, which cited widespread "illegalities and irregularities." New elections are scheduled for October 26.

The report, titled "Mirage at Dusk", documented killings in predominantly opposition areas of the country where protests began after party leaders alleged fraud.

Riot police armed with batons, tear gas and assault rifles, and backed with water cannons, were quickly deployed to quell the protests.

Seven of those killed were under the age of 18 and included a six-month-old baby who died after being beaten by police who broke into her home during late night demonstrations in the western city of Kisumu, an opposition stronghold.

Adult victims were overwhelmingly young men aged 20-45.

"While the Commission was not able to determine whether the action to use force by security agents was predetermined and targeted, it is clear from our analysis that majority of the victims were from one ethnic community and from informal settlements," the report said.

Almost all of the dead were killed in western Kenya or the slums of the capital Nairobi, both strongholds of opposition leader Raila Odinga and his Luo ethnic community.

Kenyan police were blamed for a third of more than 1 100 deaths in 2007 when the country faced its deadliest ever post election dispute.

This time around, isolated protests erupted after Odinga accused the election commission of rigging the poll in favour of incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta.

Judges later overturned the election and ordered a re-run.

Odinga has vowed to boycott the polls if his demands, such as the overhauling of the election commission, are not met.

Thousands have protested across the country in response to his call for demonstrations on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays as political rhetoric on both sides has grown more angry.

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