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Mob Attacks Kill Three in Kenya

October 6, 2000

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ Mob attacks to avenge a spate of child killings have left three people dead and set off violent clashes with police, who are appealing to angry and frightened residents to stop taking justice into their own hands.

Rioting broke out last weekend after the mutilated bodies of three girls aged between 5 and 10, were discovered in empty lots and waste dumps that run through a densely populated slum neighborhood on the east side of the Kenyan capital.

The enraged mobs who believe the child killings are the work of devil worshippers have killed three people they suspected of involvement in the deaths, and have attacked police for trying to rescue and protect possible suspects.

``We are worried. It has gone to an extent where they are attacking the police. One of my senior officers was seriously injured,″ Namwel Mocheche, a police commander in the area, said Thursday. ``We may be forced to use live bullets, and somebody might get killed.″

``We are asking the public to desist from taking the law into their hands,″ Mocheche said, ``If there are suspects, it is up to the courts to decide whether they are guilty or not.″

A gang of youths on Sept. 30 attacked the headquarters of a religious sect they suspected to be devil worshippers and tried to kill the leader. But police intervened.

Three days later, a man was beaten to death as he got off a bus with a young child who was crying. The man turned out to be her grandfather who had taken her on an errand.

``I do not want this case to end just like the others,″ said Judy Wairimu, 17, referring to the dozens of unsolved murders in the city. The body of her 10-year-old niece, Jackline Wambui, was found Saturday in a stream near her home. She had been missing for a week.

Mocheche, the police commander, said the bodies of some of the victims had been mutilated with eyes, tongues and sexual organs removed.

``This kind of ritual killing, whether religious or not, that amounts to devil worship,″ said Mocheche.

The Kenya office of the United Nations Children’s Fund has condemned the kidnapping and inhuman treatment of children in Kenya. UNICEF said reports indicate that serial killers have kidnapped between 30 to 50 children in Nairobi and neighboring districts in the past year.

``A few of the children who were able to escape have given accounts of despicable, inhuman acts by the kidnappers, including lashing and beating, sometimes to death; tying victims to trees to die of dehydration; and forcing victims to witness the killings of other children,″ the statement said.

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