Page last updated at 17:39 GMT, Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Kenya anger over massacre burial

Mourner at the Eldoret church in Kenya
Relatives want the victims buried on their ancestral lands

There is confusion in Kenya over how to deal with bodies piled in the town of Eldoret's morgue for more than a year.

The deceased died in a church burnt down by a mob during ethnic violence after elections in December 2007.

Thirty-seven bodies were to have been buried on Wednesday but after the first 10 were interred they had to be dug up amid furious protests from relatives.

Families want their loved ones laid to rest on ancestral lands but some bodies remain unidentified a year on.

Eldoret, in the Rift Valley, was hardest hit by the clashes following the disputed presidential election, which left 1,500 people dead and hundreds of thousands homeless.

The BBC's Wanyama Chebusiri in Eldoret says furious families, some wailing with grief, demonstrated at Kiplombe cemetery on the outskirts of the town on Wednesday.

Tense stand-off

After a tense hour-long stand-off with armed police, the authorities agreed to disinter the bodies and take them back to the morgue.

We got the shock of our lives this morning when we came to discover that bodies have been removed from the hospital mortuary
Grieving relative in Eldoret

Our correspondent says some relatives are still awaiting DNA test results to positively identify their loves ones.

Families have said the victims should be buried in a mass grave beside the church if they cannot be identified.

Local community groups have objected and said the victims should be laid to rest on their own ancestral lands.

But up to 10,000 internally displaced people remain in Eldoret, a year on from the post-election bloodshed, and many fear being attacked if they go home.

One of the grieving protesters at the graveyard told the BBC no official had made contact to inform them of the planned burials.

"We got the shock of our lives this morning when we came to discover that bodies have been removed from the hospital mortuary," he said.

The victims were among people from President Mwai Kibaki's Kikuyu ethnic group who were seeking shelter in Kiambaa Pentecostal church when the building was torched by a mob.

Mortuary full

Local district commissioner Leonard Ngaluma said they would consult with the families to ensure any decisions made "should confirm with our African traditions as Kenyans and also accord them the best burial agreed by all".

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga
Kenya's coalition is showing signs of strained ties

Dr Moses Njue, at Eldoret's Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, said the hospital mortuary could hardly cope with the bodies.

"The equipments are breaking down because our refrigerators can only keep a certain kind of load," he told the BBC.

"Some of the bodies are burned and some of them are skeletonised... and once a body starts rotting it continues rotting no matter what you can do."

Meanwhile, Kenya's coalition government - set up in the peace deal that brought an end to last year's disorder - is showing signs of strain.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has been holding crisis talks this week with members of his party amid complaints they are being sidelined by the president.

President Kibaki has been accused of failing to consult the premier about decisions on electoral reform, a controversial media law and new ambassadors.

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