Kenyan election sparks political killings
Kenya's disputed election result has triggered a series of politically-motivated killings of civilians by groups of armed youths across the country. Amnesty International has strongly condemned the killings and is particularly concerned at the developing ethnic-related nature of the violence. The organization has called on the Kenyan government and political party leaders to take all possible measures to ensure an immediate halt to the violence. They must commit themselves publicly to the respect and protection of the human rights of all citizens. "Political leaders must not explicitly or implicitly condone violence against supposed supporters of their rivals," said Erwin van der Borght, Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme. More than 75,000 people have been internally displaced in the country as a result of the violence. There is also concern at continuing reports of killings by police. One individual was reported to have been shot dead on Thursday during skirmishes between police and demonstrators in Mombasa. Over 300 people are reported to have been killed as a result of the violence. This includes over 30 people -- mostly women and children fleeing from armed youths -- who were deliberately burned to death after they sought refuge in a church in Eldoret town in the Rift Valley on 1 January. Medical staff at the Women’s Hospital in Nairobi have also reported a sharp increase in rape figures of women and girls, committed by gangs and individuals as part of the post-election violence. In some areas with a history of ethnic conflict, recent attacks by anti-government mobs appear to have targeted members of President Kibaki’s Kikuyu ethnic group, in apparent retaliation for suspected election rigging. Informal roadblocks have been set up across the country by violent youth gangs, some armed with machetes, sticks and stones. Some displaced people have been evacuated by the Kenyan government under military escort or by plane to safer locations, including from Eldoret to Nairobi and other parts of Kenya. Thousands are reported to be fleeing to neighbouring countries, particularly Uganda. "The Kenyan government must arrange rapid humanitarian assistance to the internally displaced and to provide all necessary security for humanitarian relief workers," said van der Borght. Violence flared in Kenya after Mwai Kibaki was declared president on 30 December. Raila Odinga’s opposition party disputes the result, while election observers have questioned the credibility of the counting and tallying of the presidential vote.