August 21, 1997 in Nation/World

Second Ruling Party Official Arrested In Kenya After Violence Claims 37

Chege Mbitiru Associated Press
 

An activist in Kenya’s ruling party was under arrest Wednesday in connection with weeklong violence that has killed at least 37 people on the Indian Ocean coast.

Omar Masumbuko, head of a youth club affiliated with the Kenya African National Union of President Daniel arap Moi, is the second party official to be picked up since the attacks on police, traders, merchants and souvenir vendors started Aug. 13. He was arrested Tuesday night.

There are growing indications that the violence was stirred up - at least in part - by local party operatives against people from tribes not native to the area, who tend not to support the party.

Opposition and human rights advocates link the violence with general elections that must be held before the end of the year.

But there also are signs that tribes from the Mijikenda group are fighting back against illegal land seizures by Mombasa politicians and their representatives in villages along the coast.

In reports of more attacks late Tuesday south of Mombasa, assailants set fire to the houses of local residents. No injuries were reported.

Coast provincial police commissioner Francis Gichuki said Masumbuko and Emmanuel Karisa Maitha had been seen at the sites of several attacks. Maitha was arrested earlier this week.

National police spokesman Peter Kimanthi said Wednesday that 309 people were under arrest in the violence and 44 had been arraigned on charges of assault with a deadly weapon or illegal possession of weapons.


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