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Kenya Riot Kills 50 in Church Torching

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  • Kenya
    (Photo: AP Images / ICRC, via AP Television)
    Building burn in the the Kenyan town of Eldoret in this image taken from TV supplied by the International Committee of the Red Cross Tuesday Jan. 1, 2008. A mob torched a church in Eldoret sheltering hundreds of people fleeing post-election violence Tuesday, killing up to 50 people including many children as four days of rioting and ethnic clashes marked one of the darkest times in Kenya's history.
  • Kenya
    (Photo: AP Images / Sayyid Azim)
    Supporters of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) run as riot police chase them in Nairobi, Kenya, Monday, Dec. 31, 2007. Police battled thousands of opposition supporters across Kenya who charge President Mwai Kibaki stole his way to re-election, and several officers said Monday they had orders to shoot to kill to quell the violence that has killed at least 94 people. The violence started in the days after Thursday's vote, stretching from Nairobi's shantytowns, which are home to tens of thousands of opposition supporters, to the Rift Valley and the tourist-friendly coast.
  • Kenya
    (Photo: AP Images / Sayyid Azim)
    A family group leaves the Kibera shantytown in Nairobi, Kenya, Monday, Dec. 31, 2007, as many people move away from trouble spots, during protests by opposition supporters who accuse President Mwai Kibaki of rigging the presidential election results on Thursday. Several police officers said Monday they had orders to shoot to kill to quell the recent violent demonstrations.
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By Michelle A. Vu, Christian Post Reporter
January 1, 2008|2:03 pm

A church torching near Nairobi killed at least 50 people on Tuesday as political-motivated violence and riots continued for the fourth day in what was one of the most stable and prosperous countries in Africa.

“There was a huge mob, they attacked the church,” said a witness who requested to remain anonymous for security reason, according to The Associated Press. The person counted at least 15 to 20 charred bodies at the church in Eldoret, about 185 miles northwest of Nairobi.

Outbreaks of violence has plagued Nairobi since the government announced last weekend that incumbent President Mwai Kibaki was re-elected with 51.3 percent of the vote, compared with opposition leader Raila Odinga’s 48.7 percent, according to CNN. Kibaki’s opponents say the election was rigged and have refused to accept his presidency.

The European Union and the United States have also refused to congratulate Kibaki as president, saying that there was likely foul play by both parties during the election. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has urged the two sides to call for an end to the violence and discuss their differences peacefully, according to AP.

Kibaki is from the largest ethnic group in Kenya, the Kikuyu tribe, while Odinga is a member of the Luo tribe, a smaller but still major group.

On Tuesday, hundreds of Kenyans from Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe were taking shelter in the sanctuary at the time of the church attack. The torching is part of the tribal violence that began in the shantytowns of Nairobi and has since spread to resort towns on the coast.

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In total, the recent ethnic clashes has killed at least 270 people and exposed Kenya’s long struggle with tribal tension.

Opposition leader Odinga said Tuesday he plans to march with a million supporters in the capital on Thursday against Kibaki. The government has banned the demonstration, but Odinga said, “It doesn’t matter what they say,” according to AP.

The tribal conflict has forced Kenyan families to flee their homes and many interviewed said that they and their small children have not eaten for days. Many of the shops have closed due to the violence and people have not been able to work and as a result have no money to buy food.

“My eldest daughter keeps asking what am I going to do and the small one is crying from hunger,” said Winnie Nduku, 34, to AP.

Reports indicate that the number of deaths is expected to rise with some estimates at 228 since Saturday, based on statistics gathered from police, morgues and witnesses.

Kenya’s population consists of 45 percent Protestant, 33 percent Roman Catholic, 10 percent Muslim, and 10 percent adhering to indigenous beliefs, according to the CIA World Factbook.

 

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