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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 January 2008, 22:19 GMT
Boy's death exposes Kenya's tragedy
By Karen Allen
BBC News, Kisumu, western Kenya

A mother grieves for her son, killed in post-election violence, in Kisumu, Kenya, on 11 January
For grieving mothers, the memories will never fade
Salim Hamed was out playing football in a poor neighbourhood of Kisumu when three stray bullets, fired by police, struck him in the back.

He died, aged just 13 - another casualty of Kenya's post-election violence.

He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, caught up as protesters were repelled by a volley of gunfire.

Salim had wanted to be an engineer. Now this life cut short is a tragic statistic in the history of 21st Century Kenya.

Recriminations

The people who have come to pay their respects are terrified that their country has been plunged into such chaos.

As men prepare to load the child's body, wrapped in a simple blanket, onto a truck, his father, Ahmed Ibrahim Hussein, expresses fears that there will be bitter recriminations.

"Such a thing will bring hate to both sides. If his excellency the president does not resign, I fear people will keep on dying," he says.

Opposition supporters chant anti-government slogans in Kisumu, west Kenya, on 9 January
The Luo community... are feeling angry. Angry that 'their man' is being 'cheated' out of the presidency. They want to protest but they are told they can't

The grieving is interrupted when what should have been a sombre procession to honour a young boy turns into a political rally.

Anyang Nyong'o, the secretary general of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement, is in town, and he has dropped by the morgue to say a few words.

Salim's stepmother, Halima, lowers her eyes to the ground as the politician pronounces on a boy he did not know.

The death he blames on President Mwai Kibaki, whom he accuses of rigging the vote.

His party have urged the 76-year-old president to stand down and is calling for a new government made up of a coalition of all parties.

Shared grief

Muslim prayers mark the start of the funeral procession as we wind our way past burning tyres fashioned into roadblocks.

There is the faint sound of gunfire ringing out in the distance across the neighbourhood. More lives have been lost today.

This is our first chance to catch a glimpse of the area where on Wednesday police moved in after firing over the heads of protesters staging what the authorities say was an illegal rally.

A few tin hut shops are open but most businesses are closed - almost the entire neighbourhood has converged on the burial site.

A middle-aged man convulses with grief, sobbing: "How can you kill innocent children?"

Salim was a member of the Luo community - "but we are all Kenyans here", explains a woman mourner.

Salim was too young to vote, but old enough to be caught up in a conflict that has assumed an ethnic dimension.

Police chase

It doesn't explain the whole picture, but in a province such as Nyanza, where Kisumu is the main town, the Luo community dominates - and its members are feeling angry.

Angry that "their man" is being "cheated" out of the presidency. They want to protest, but they are told they can't.

This is a community haunted by the death of a child and the images shown on television screens of Wednesday's violence.

Captured on camera are pictures of a lone policeman chasing unarmed youths.

Shots are fired and two of the men fall to the ground. Both died later that night.

For many people living in Kisumu, the fallout from the presidential vote has become personal. It is ripping the country apart.



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