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Kenya election riots leave more than 120 dead


By Mike Pflanz in Nairobi
Last Updated: 2:27am GMT 04/01/2008

Violence spread across Kenya today as enraged supporters of the losing opposition candidate battled with police and tribal rivals in riots which killed more than 120 people.

  • In pictures: Police and protesters clash
  • Video: Riots sweep the country after poll
  • Analysis: Kenya could be facing its greatest crisis
  • Billowing plumes of black smoke rose above Nairobi's Kibera slum as opposing factions fought each other.

     
    Violent riots have spread through Kenya
    Riots swept the country after yesterday's election result

    Troops in riot gear were deployed in their thousands around the capital as trucks full of soldiers raced through the deserted streets towards the slum areas.

    In the opposition heartland city of Kisumu in the west, more than 53 people have died as authorities were believed to have instituted a shoot-on-sight curfew.

    Another 40 were killed overnight in Nairobi, taking the toll since Thursday's vote to 124.

    Tourists holidaying on Kenya's white-sand Indian Ocean beaches were advised to stay in their hotel compounds as hundreds of demonstrators were reported on the streets of Mombasa, the coast capital.

    Safari areas are largely unaffected. More than 7,000 British tourists are believed to be in the country at the moment.

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    "So far the effects have been minimal, because I think people are aware most of the problems are taking place in high-density housing areas, not tourists spots," said Jake Grieves-Cooks, the former chairman of the Kenya Tourist Board.

    "We arrived this morning and wanted a couple of days in Nairobi, but we don't know if we can even leave the hotel," said Richard Fattal, 21, from London, who was on a safari with his family.

    The British Foreign Office also advised Britons not to travel to Kenya's two biggest towns unless absolutely necessary.

    The FO said: "We advise against all but essential travel to Kisumu, Kakamega, Kericho, Eldoret and the Kisauni area of Nyali district in Mombasa, and Likoni and Tiwi areas south of Mombasa.

    "We also advise against all but essential travel to the city centre, Uhuru Park, Kibera, Mathare, and Eastleigh areas of Nairobi."

    Flights to Kisumu have been cancelled, and there are reports of long delays at Mombasa airport. Kisumu is the stronghold of the opposition leader Raila Odinga, who was narrowly beaten in Thursday's elections by the incumbent, Mwai Kibaki, 76.

    "There is no democracy in this country," said Oliver Onyango, 29. searching for food among empty vegetable stalls in Nairobi's Kibera slum. "We queued for hours to put our votes and now this is what happens.

    "We will not do it again, we can have no respect for democracy when this is the result."

     
    Mwai Kibaki, president of Kenya
    Mwai Kibaki: returned to power

    Mr Odinga's supporters have taken to the streets across the country, shouting, "No Raila, no peace".

    Their leader has promised peaceful protests to overturn the result, or the declaration of a vote of no confidence in Mr Kibaki. International observers including Britain have raised "serious concerns" over the results.

    The United States government said it was concerned by serious problems experienced during the vote counting process.

    "These included various anomalies with respect to unrealistically high voter turnout rates close to 100 percent in some constituencies, discrepancies in the numbers of votes reported for the respective candidates, apparent manipulation of some election reporting documents, and long delays in reporting results," it said in a statement.

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