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Tuesday , 21 November 2017

Three dead, 30 wounded in Kenya poll clashes

At least three people were shot dead Thursday and more than 30 wounded as opposition protesters clashed with police during Kenya’s presidential re-run, police and hospital sources said.

On the eve of the election, Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga had called for a boycott of the vote, urging people to stay at home.

But in several of his strongholds, hundreds of Odinga supporters took to the streets to express their discontent and prevent ballots from being cast.

In the western city of Kisumu, 19-year-old George Odhiambo died from blood loss after being shot in the thigh during clashes which erupted after protesters barricaded roads and polling stations to block the vote, police and hospital sources said.

And Kisumu’s governor, Anyang Nyongo, told reporters 29 people had been wounded in the city, most of them by live bullets.

Further south, another man was shot dead in Homa Bay on the southern shores of Lake Victoria where police said “a large mob attacked a small police facility… and the few police officers were constrained to use live fire to protect themselves and the armoury”.

Kenya’s Red Cross said five people had also been injured in protests in Homa Bay in a post on Twitter.

And in Nairobi, one man died from a bullet to the head in Mathare slum, the director of Drugnet hospital told AFP.

The latest casualties take the death toll since a disputed August 8 election to at least 43. Rights groups say most people were killed at the hands of police.

In a separate development, police said a man was stabbed as he was going out to vote in the eastern port city of Mombasa, while a police officer in Kisumu was also stabbed.

– MSF ambulance attacked –

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said one of its ambulances had been vandalised and its staff harassed as they tried to help the wounded in Nairobi’s Mathare slum, calling for its teams to have “unconditional and safe access” to those in need of medical treatment.

It said its staff had treated 19 people throughout the day: four in Nairobi, 10 in Kisumu and another five in Homa Bay.

With the protests disrupting voting in several areas, election chief Wafula Chebukati said the re-run would be postponed until Saturday in four western counties, among them Kisumu and Homa Bay.

But Kisumu’s governor said that given the “intolerable” police crackdown, the vote would not be taking place on Saturday.

“People have the right to resist an oppressive regime,” Nyongo said. “I don’t understand why police should use live bullets to disperse people. They should use water cannon or teargas. Not live bullets.”

“We are not going to vote when we are mourning,” he said. “If Chebukati wants us to vote, let him resurrect those who have died first, then we vote.”

As the protests gained pace, Amnesty International urged the police to exercise restraint.

“With tensions running high there is a very real threat of further bloodshed as the election re-run takes place,” said Justus Nyangaya, Amnesty’s Kenya director.

“We are calling on the police to only use force as a last resort — unlawful police killings and other human rights violations must not be allowed to recur.”

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