Two-year-old boy beheaded

Nairobi, Kenya - A TWO-year-old boy was beheaded and chopped up in a Kenyan capital slum today, police said, amid a fierce crackdown on an illegal sect blamed for a string of murders and decapitations.

The boy's mutilated torso was discovered in a maize farm and his head 500m away at a river bank in capital's Nairobi's crime-prone Korogocho slums, police commander Paul Ruto said.

The remains had no limbs, the chest was lacerated and the genitals chopped off, raising speculation that the body parts might be used in rites by the politically-linked Mungiki sect.

“The boy has been identified positively by his father who says he went missing two days ago,” Mr Ruto said.

"We have recorded statements from several people and are now searching for the killers."

The remains were discovered hours after police said they had killed 12 people in a crackdown on organised crime gangs in Nairobi, including members of Mungiki.

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

Since March, the sect - which was banned in 2002 - has been blamed for the murders of at least 43 people, 13 of whom were beheaded, mostly in Nairobi slums and central Kenya.

The group also has alleged historic ties to the Mau Mau independence uprising, and is said to perpetuate customs such as female excision.

The police crackdown against it comes ahead of December general elections.

So far, it has resulted in the deaths of at least 79 Mungiki members and more than 3000 arrests nationwide.

Police said 11 of the 12 suspects killed were linked to a foiled carjacking and robberies in three Nairobi suburbs.

At least three of them were members of the Mungiki sect, they added.

“We have intensified the crackdown on all organised gangs, including Mungiki,” said another police commander, Julius Ndegwa.