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Rival Kenyan parties say violence must end

/ Source: The Associated Press

Rival parties in Kenya said Friday they had agreed to take immediate action to end violence after a month of deadly turmoil over a disputed presidential election.

The two sides signed a four-point agenda that said they would complete talks within 15 days on measures to end the political crisis. It was not immediately clear how the key points of contention would be addressed.

“We have agreed (on) an agenda covering both short-term issues and also long-term issues,” former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan told a news conference after mediating talks with representatives of President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

More than 800 people have been killed and 300,000 forced from their homes since the disputed Dec. 27 presidential election. Kibaki has made clear that his position as president is nonnegotiable, and the international community has been pressing Kibaki and Odinga to share power.

Mob armed with bows, arrows
Much of the bloodshed set off by the political feud has pitted other ethnic groups, including Odinga’s Luo tribe, against Kibaki’s Kikuyu. Kikuyus, Kenya’s largest ethnic group, have long been resented for their dominance of the economy and politics.

On Friday, nine people were killed in western Kenya, including a police officer attacked by a mob of 3,000 armed with bows and arrows, spears, clubs and machetes in the home village of an opposition lawmaker who had been fatally shot by a police officer the day before.

Six people were hacked to death and two killed with poisoned arrows, witnesses said. Nyamira District Commissioner Samuel Njora confirmed the deaths at Ikonge, some 240 miles west of the capital, Nairobi.

The police casualty Friday was the first one authorities have linked to the monthlong postelection turmoil. The mob accused the officer of wounding a civilian Thursday during protests after the killing of lawmaker David Kimutai Too, police commander Peter Aliwa said.

Too’s killing added to distrust of police, who are already accused of using excessive force and of being too allied with the government. Police said they had fatally shot four people and wounded five others Thursday evening and Friday morning in western Kenya.

Britain Foreign Office Minister Mark Malloch-Brown suggested deploying Kenya’s army, saying Kenyan police “at this stage seem to be seen as no longer neutral and behind some of the killings.”

But Kibaki insisted Friday that “the security situation in the country is under control.”

Police said Too’s killing Thursday in the Rift Valley city of Eldoret was a crime of passion: He was shot by a traffic police officer who discovered the lawmaker was having an affair with his girlfriend, also a police officer. A woman shot in the same attack also died.

Too was the second anti-government legislator killed in a week — Mugabe Were was fatally shot Tuesday as he drove to his house in suburban Nairobi. Opposition politicians said both were victims of assassination plots meant to rob Odinga’s party of the parliamentary majority it won in voting the same day as the presidential election. A Too family spokesman accused the police of a cover-up, saying the lawmaker was not involved with the woman.

U.S. offers FBI help
The spokesman, Julius Langat, said the slain policewoman was a family friend to whom Too, a former teacher and father of two, had gone to seek protection for his family.

Odinga said Friday that the United States has offered to send FBI agents to investigate Were’s murder, and urged the government to accept. The U.S Embassy confirmed the offer had been made.

But government spokesman Alfred Mutua said the government had not received the offer, and did not need outside help. “We are capable of conducting our own murder investigation,” Mutua told reporters.

In western Kenya Friday, hundreds of young men blocked roads with burning tires and rocks in Kericho, a town near Too’s constituency. “Kibaki must go!” they chanted.

Smoke columns rose from smoldering ashes in what remains of the city’s poor Nwagocho and Baraka housing estates. There, police said they shot and killed four people and injured five Thursday evening and Friday morning.

“Those who were shot and killed were participating in looting properties and torching residential houses and business buildings,” said John Otieno, in charge of criminal investigations there.

One of the wounded at the hospital, Elizabeth Kones, said she was running from her burning home when she was hit. Her hand was broken.

In Eldoret, 21 people were injured in clashes following Too’s killing, including 13 who were shot, of whom one later died.