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Wednesday, 20 March, 2002, 18:22 GMT
Kenyan police detain 200 sect followers
A Mungiki gathering
The Mungikis claim to have 4 million members
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By Alice Muthengi
BBC reporter in Nairobi
line
Police in Kenya have arrested 200 members of the banned Mungiki sect, which has been blamed for violence in the capital, Nairobi.


The arrests are politically motivated and designed to intimidate members

Ndura Waruinge, Mungiki cooridator
Weapons - including clubs, swords, and arrows - were recovered in raids carried out in the Kajiaro district, south of Nairobi.

The arrests come three weeks after the sect was blamed for the death of more than 20 people in riots in a Nairobi slum.

That violence had an ethnic dimension. The Mungiki sect is predominantly Kikuyu and they have been fighting a largely ethnic Luo vigilante group.

Intimidation

The Kajiando district commisioner said the latest arrests occurred during a meeting to plan an attack against an unnamed group.

Mungiki members
Fighting for African values
But the Mungikis' national coordinator, Ndura Waruinge, denied that the group was planning an attack.

He said the arrests were politically motivated, and designed to intimidate members.

Those detained have not been formally charged, but are expected to appear in court soon.

Street battles

The Mungiki sect urges people to return to traditional African lifestyles.

The sect was outlawed because it advocates the practice of female circumcision.

However, correspondents say it still operates widely, despite the ban.

Followers have long been engaged in battles with minibus touts, who they claim are behind the rise of insecurity in Nairobi.

See also:

04 Mar 02 | Africa
Religious sect rampages in Kenya
07 Dec 01 | Africa
Kenya's slum war
04 Dec 01 | Africa
Brutal killings in Nairobi slum
06 Dec 01 | Africa
'Hundreds raped' in Kenya clashes
25 Oct 00 | Africa
Clampdown after sect strips women
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