/ 5 November 2007

Kenya police suspected of executing nearly 500

A human rights panel on Monday implicated Kenyan police in the execution of nearly 500 men in the country during a months-long crackdown on the ultra-violent Mungiki gang.

The state-run Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) said the victims were executed by a single bullet between June and October and their bodies dumped in mortuaries and settlements outside Nairobi.

Over the same period, 454 bodies were recovered in the capital’s city mortuary, 11 in the eastern town of Machakos and 11 in the Rift Valley town of Naivasha.

”Almost all the cadavers bear classic execution sign of a bullet behind the head exiting through the forehead,” the KNCHR said in a new report on alleged executions and disappearances of people.

The findings ”lead to the inescapable conclusion that the police could be complicit in the killing. The KNCHR is also extremely concerned that the emerging pattern point to possible complicity of state security agents in the disappearance of persons,” the report said.

There was no immediate police comment.

Residents said police dumped some of dozens of bodies found around Kiserian settlement, south of the capital, after shooting them at close range. Some bodies were devoured by hyenas, the report said.

The killings occured after police declared war on the politically linked Mungiki gang, which was banned in 2002 after deadly slum warfare that claimed the lives of dozens of people.

Once a religious group of dreadlocked youths who embraced traditional rituals, authorities say the Mungiki sect has morphed into a ruthless gang blamed for criminal activities including extortion and murder.

Since March, the gang has been accused of murdering at least 43 people — beheading several of their victims — mainly in Nairobi slums and central Kenya.

The wave of killings peaked in June, raising fears of widespread instability in Kenya ahead of general elections due in December, but a police crackdown that killed dozens of Mungiki suspects has since curbed the violence. – AFP