Thursday, January 10, 2013

Three die, 20 shanties torched in fresh slum clashes

By ZADOCK ANGIRA zangira@ke.nationmedia.com

A fresh retaliatory attack in Mathare on Wednesday morning claimed at least three lives and left about 20 shacks burnt to the ground.

This brings to seven the number of people killed, and over 100 shanties destroyed in the sprawling slum in the last month.

On Tuesday evening, three men were stabbed and later succumbed to the wounds.

Tension started building after the stabbings and most residents stayed indoors and traders closed shop as early as 7pm.

At around 1am on Wednesday, a group of young men believed to be from Mathare 4B crossed the river to Mathare 3C and locked some doors from outside before setting the shacks on fire.

One of those houses belonged to Mr Thomas Thiongo Mwangi, 60, a carpenter, who was burnt beyond recognition.

His first born son, Mr Charles Gitau, said he last saw his father alive on Tuesday night when he called him to help in adjusting his TV aerial.

He said thought they had lived in the area for years, they were becoming worried at the persistent fighting between the two villages. “We even told our father to leave but he was reluctant,” said Mr Gitau.

Residents said the attacks were systematic and predictable but police had failed to contain them.

Retaliatory attacks are common in the area, especially with the emergence of the vigilante groups due to what many say is the police’s inability to provide adequate security.

Mr Gitau blamed the police for letting down residents, saying tension had been mounting in the area from Tuesday evening and they had been informed. “They came and told people to go indoors and went back to the petrol station on Juja Road,” Mr Gitau said.

The residents denied earlier reports that the attacks were ethnic, saying this purely the work of criminal gangs.

They said that they had provided police with the names of the suspects.

Another resident, Mr George Onyango Oyugi on Wednesday said the attacks were well coordinated and the raiders did not steal from them. “This shows that the motive of the attacks is not robbery,” he said.

On December 28, at least 30 shanties were burnt down in the area in a similar attack.

A resident of 4B, Mr Collins Omondi, was stabbed and died as he walked home, resulting in his neighbours planning a revenge attack.

A week earlier, two people were killed when their houses were set on fire.

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