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Friday, 27 July, 2001, 10:56 GMT 11:56 UK
Kenya police 'executed' robbers
Kenya's minibus or matatu
Witnesses say the victims were ordered out of a mini bus and shot dead
Kenyan police say they have launched an investigation into reports that their officers carried out roadside executions of seven suspected robbers.

Eyewitnesses and the Kenya Human Rights Commission claim police officers shot and killed the suspects after disarming them and making them lie face down along a busy road.

It was the most horrfic scene I have ever seen. The suspects did not fire a single shot at the police

Eye witness

Police spokesman Dola Indidis contradicted that account.

He said his officers had intercepted the minibus on which the suspects were travelling.

The suspects "came out and fired at the police, trying to escape. The police returned fire and seven were shot dead".

'Most horrific scene'

But local newspapers spoke to various people at the scene who all gave the same account.

Kenyans helping a victim
Over 1,000 Kenyans killed by police, rights group claims
A taxi driver said: "It was the most horrific scene I have ever seen. The suspects did not fire a single shot at the police."

The police spokesman told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme: " If we are given the evidence we will prosecute any police officer using fire arms or excessive force".

The shootings come amid growing concern over the rise in armed and violent crime in Nairobi.

The independent Kenya Human Rights Commission claims that in the past six years Kenyan police have killed more than 1,000 people.

Elite response unit

In April last year, a minister of state told the police to operate a shoot-to-kill policy, saying it was the only way to deal with violent crime.

The human rights commission says innocent bystanders, as well as armed and unarmed robbers, have all fallen victim to the police's use of excessive force and shootings.

The officers involved in the latest killings are in the elite response unit but the human right body says police generally lack training in human and civil rights.

Anonymous eyewitness
"They were all lying side by side on the gound"
Police spokesman Dola Indidis
"Some of them attempted to shoot"
See also:

02 May 00 | Africa
Police killed in Kenya clash
06 Oct 00 | Africa
Kenya lynch mob fears
26 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Kenya
06 Oct 00 | Africa
Kenya's vigilante problem
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