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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 August 2007, 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK
Banned Kenyan gang leader caught
Mourning women after seeing a body
Recent grisly murders have shocked Kenyans
A suspected leader of Kenya's outlawed Mungiki gang, linked to a series of grim beheadings, has been arrested.

Njoroge Kamunya is alleged to be a key figure in the shadowy sect which claims to have political links.

He was seized by police at his home just outside the capital, Nairobi, after being on the run since April.

The BBC's Karen Allen in Nairobi says his arrest is part of a sweep by security forces to stamp out the gang ahead of elections later this year.

'Heavy handed'

The man arrested by police is the brother of another alleged Mungiki leader who was jailed for five years in June, for firearms offences.

Mungiki  followers
Banned in 2002
Thought to be ethnic Kikuyu militants
Mungiki means multitude in Kikuyu
Inspired by the Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950s
Claim to have more than 1m followers
Promote female circumcision and oath-taking
Believed to be linked to high-profile politicians
Control public transport routes, demanding levies
Blamed for revenge murders in the central region

He has not been charged.

Our correspondent says the Mungiki gang has been blamed for the deaths of police officers and dozens of civilians during a killing spree earlier this year.

A subsequent police crackdown led to more than 100 people losing their lives.

Human rights groups accused the security forces of heavy handedness during the operation.

Mungiki followers have been demanding protection fees from public transport operators, slum dwellers and other businessmen in Nairobi.

Those who refuse are often brutally murdered.

The Mungiki are thought to be militants from Kenya's biggest ethnic group, the Kikuyu. The sect was banned in 2002.

Some commentators have linked them to politicians wanting to cause unrest and fear ahead of December elections.


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