NAIROBI, Several people were killed as chaos rocked Kenya’s Nairobi for the better part of Friday as police clashed with the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) supporters, who were welcoming home their leader Raila Odinga.
Odinga has returned to the country from a ten-day tour of the United States, Germany and Britain and NASA had organised a grand reception for him from the main airport.
Police outlawed the reception, leading to a day-long confrontation with NASA supporters who defied the ban.
Clashes began immediately after Odinga’s convoy left the airport where his supporters turned chaotic along the busy Nairobi-Mombasa highway. Some reports said at least three people were killed during the chaos that also paralyzed the traffic.
The supporters burned tyres, blocked roads, hurled stones at police, threw up burning barricades as they sang and danced along the busy highway.
Mombasa Road, where the main airport Jomo Kenyatta is situated, was the center of chaos with motorists being caught in between.
Some protestors barred from entering the airport resorted to stoning motorists caught up in the massive traffic jam.
“I was in a public service vehicle when the protestors approached the vehicle and demanded the driver to give them money. They were given 2 U.S. dollars by the driver but they still stoned the vehicle shattering all glasses,” said Simon Mutimba, a commuter on the road.
He noted that three passengers sustained minor injuries as the shattering glasses and stones flew into the vehicle.
The chaos saw Odinga’s car damaged as police used teargas and water canons to disperse his supporters. It was not clear what caused the damage.
However, Odinga’s team said the windscreen was smashed by the police bullet that apparently was aimed at Odinga’s life. The opposition leader who was inside the damaged car was not hurt and proceeded with the procession undeterred.
The government through Interior ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka however dismissed claims of attempts on Odinga’s life, terming the reports as reckless.
He said claims being circulated on verified NASA accounts are to attract sympathy and urged the public to ignore and treat them with contempt.
Speaking to his supporters later, Odinga announced the launch of the Third Liberation that will push for electoral justice, noting that this was just the beginning and that the day will go into the political calendar as a special one.
“I promise our journey to liberation is inevitable. I want to tell Uhuru that the third liberation has come and his government must fall,” the NASA leader told his supporters.
He assured his supporters that the NASA coalition will stand firm in the quest for a revolution in the electoral process.
TV scenes showed the protests were coupled with sounds of gunshots and the firing of tear gas. The opposition supporters took cover but some returned to the streets where they threw stones at police in retaliation.
Several vehicles were burnt by the opposition supporters, who claimed to be clearing the way for Odinga’s convoy.
Business was disrupted the entire day with many traders along the route closing shops for fear of looting.
Meanwhile, the police confirmed on Friday evening that five people were stoned to death by enraged crowds for allegedly looting during the chaos.
Police spokesperson George Kinoti said that the incidences happened around the main commuter bus terminus in the city.
Kinoti said no live ammunition was used during what the police termed as “unauthorized procession” and instead only tear gas, stressing that only water cannons were deployed to control the crowds.
The police spokesman also refuted claims that a vehicle in the convoy was shot at by an officer and “reiterates our position that no live ammunition was used today by any officer.”
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK