Kenyan police kill three in slum clashes

Nairobi, Kenya - Three people were killed and several others wounded when Kenyan police clashed with residents of the capital's largest slum over a banned political rally, police and witnesses said.

Violence started when police moved in to block a former leader of Mungiki, a banned cult with criminal ties, from a holding the rally in Kibera slums in southern Nairobi.

Witnesses said the General Service Unit, a paramilitary wing of the Kenyan police, had opened fire on rioters, killing two, while a third was allegedly slashed to death.

"As far as I am concerned, my officers had no instructions to use live bullets. We are investigating the alleged shooting," said Nairobi police commander Njue Njagi.

Police officials said they were forced to open live fire after one of the demonstrators had fired at the security forces.

Doctors in the capital's Masaba hospital said six people were treated for gunshot wounds after the clash in Kibera, one of Africa's largest slums and home to an estimated 800,000 people.

"We are actually appealing to the public to come and donate blood so that we are in a position to save lives in Masaba," said Lillian Moraa, a nurse in the facility.

A passing cargo train was derailed, administration police booths and razed and several shops looted in several hours of violence, witnesses said.

Police had banned the rally by ex-Mungiki leader Ndura Wairunge, who plans to run against the influential Raila Odinga in next year's parliamentary elections.

Odinga, a vocal opponent of the government, blamed the national security office for the clashes, which has heightened tension in the city.

"The minister in charge of internal security is the one who should give an explanation. But if he has reached a point where he is the one who gives orders to his officers to shoot, you ask yourself who is going to protect us," added Odinga, who represents the area in the national assembly.

"We are urging the commissioner of police to arrest (the officers who shot people) immediately," he added.

The Mungiki are a shadowy politico-religious group with alleged ties to Kenya's 1950s pre-independence Mau Mau uprising and blamed for a string of recent murders and violent robberies around the east African nation.

Last month, at least eight people were killed and thousands displaced from their homes when gang warfare rocked the capital's Mathare slums, home to about 400,000 people.

Police have warned of an upsurge in political violence in Kenya ahead of December 2007 general elections when President Mwai Kibaki is expected to face strong opposition from cabinet ministers he fired last year.

Early this month, police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of opposition supporters protesting a government decision to recognise a splinter faction of the country's main opposition party, Kenya African National Union (KANU).