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Andrew Harding in Nairobi
"The vigilante business is booming"
 real 56k

Friday, 6 October, 2000, 19:26 GMT 20:26 UK
Kenya lynch mob fears
Nairobi saw two days of angry crowds
Another person has been killed amid rising public fears about child murders.

The latest victim died in the central town of Nakuru on Thursday when police opened fire at a crowd which was trying to lynch two women it suspected of trying to kidnap two children.

Three people were killed by crowds in the capital, Nairobi, on Tuesday, and many more were injured.

The bodies of three children have been found in Nairobi in the past week.

It is one thing to mourn the needless death of children in dubious circumstances. It is quite another to turn that tragedy into an excuse to create mayhem.

THe Daily Nation newspaper
A police spokesman, Peter Kimanthi, told the BBC they had not arrested any suspects, but urged the public not to take the law into their own hands.

The police used teargas and fought running battles in Nakuru to try to disperse an angry crowd threatening mob justice.

Police then used live ammunition to disperse the gathering and one man was shot dead and a woman seriously injured in the confrontation.

Protective custody

Police are still holding three women in protective custody in Nairobi after mobs tried to lynch them.

The mother of a murdered girl
Angry crowds have been searching for those responsible for the brutal murder of the three children and police say their investigations are continuing.

Police spokesman Peter Kimanthi said the women being held were not suspected of involvement in the murder of three young girls.

The mutilated bodies of the five, six and ten year olds were found separately during the past week.

Another nine-month old baby girl is reported to be missing from her home.

Witch hunts

These incidents triggered two days of rioting in Nairobi.

Police used live ammunition
In one incident a crowd killed a man in front of his own granddaughter, mistakenly believing the girl had been kidnapped.

The police described the public response as a witch-hunt and said it appeared that some people were using the disturbances as an excuse to settle scores.

The investigation into the original murders has yet to produce any solid results. Some officials have blamed a serial killer.

The Kenyan authorities have urged the public not to take the law into their own hands but as yet unsubstantiated rumours of satanic rituals and the sale of body parts have spread rapidly.

There have also been disturbances in the coastal town of Mombasa amid reports of more child kidnappings there.

According to Kenyan radio, however, the police have denied those reports and urged parents to take their children to school as normal.

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06 Oct 00 | Africa
Africa Media Watch
06 Oct 00 | Africa
Kenya's vigilante problem
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