Police battle rival gangs in Nairobi's Kawangware

Friday October 27 2017

 Kawangware, Nairobi,

This image taken on October 27, 2017 shows structures set ablaze by gangs in Kawangware, Nairobi. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

By DAVID MWERE
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By JOHN ASHIHUNDU
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Police were Friday evening battling marauding rival gangs in Nairobi’s Kawangware 56 who were engaging in looting shops and private residences as well as burning businesses.

The gangs, claiming to be protesting against Thursday's repeat presidential election, attacked and seriously injured residents.

And have since Thursday engaged police in running battles.

Kawangware, Nairobi

A man tries to put out fire using water in Kawangware, Nairobi, on October 27, 2017. PHOTO | THOMAS MUKOYA

INJURED

Residents claim that three people were killed in the violence and dozens, including three school children from Ndurarua Primary, were nursing injuries, as riot police tried to assuage the situation.

"Three Class Eight pupils from Ndurarua Primary School were injured after being caught in the chaos as they left school.

"They are stranded and terrified. They can’t go home because of the current situation, the police are not helping the situation either," a resident said as she appealed for help.

Kawangware, Nairobi

Police disperse rioters in Kawangware, Nairobi, on October 27, 2017. PHOTO | THOMAS MUKOYA

LOOTING
According to eyewitnesses, at about 5pm, a group of about 100 youth donning dreadlocks arrived in Kawangware from neighbouring Waithaka, Dagoretti South constituency.

The three were shot dead as they tried to repulse those wielding machetes.

As the situation got out of hand, the youth took advantage and started looting.

Houses and shops were broken into, property carted away as gunshots rented the air.

All the shops at the junction of 56 and 46 routes, including butcheries, hotels and salons, were razed down.

Kawangware

This image shows shops burning in Kawangware 56, Dagoretti North constituency, on October 27, 2017. Rivals gangs set them ablaze. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

FIREFIGHTERS
However, Waiyaki Way supermarket was saved from destruction by the timely intervention of six firefighter engines from the county government.

"Had it not been for the fire engines, we would be talking of massive losses. The fire was huge but they have been able to manage it before spreading," another witness said.

Tension was rife in the area on the eve of the October 26 fresh presidential election after a group of youths affiliated to Nasa warned residents against participate in the election.

VIOLENCE
Boulders were erected on the major roads leading to Kabiro, Kawangware and Gatina wards in Dagoretti North constituency.

Ms Beatrice Elachi, Nairobi County Assembly speaker, said there was a lot of destruction in Gatina and Kabiru, calling on local politicians to intervene.

"There is a lot of violence in these areas. A woman was raped yesterday and shops were burnt.

"We need to go out and speak to our young people in these areas. We need to agree to live together peacefully," Ms Elachi said.

Mr Simba Arati is the area MP.

MOMBASA

In Mombasa’s sprawling Bangladesh slum, no voting took place after huge mobs protested and blocked electoral commission officials from delivering materials or even accessing the polling centre.

It was the only polling station at the Coast where protesters forcibly stopped residents from voting.

Efforts by armed anti-riot police did not bear fruit after the protesters managed to force out electoral officials from the area.

ARREST
Police had surrounded the area on Wednesday night engaging the rowdy protesters in running battles.

However, on Thursday morning, the protesters smeared human waste on the floors, walls and some desks of St Mary’s Bangladesh Primary School, a polling station, to stop voting.

In Makongeni and Joseph Apudo Primary School polling centres in Makadara constituency, Nairobi, at least four people were arrested for attempting to intimidate voters and disrupt voting.

The situation was the same in Mathare Area 4 and Ruaraka constituencies where the police had to shoot in the air to scare away youths who had tried to stop electoral officials from opening polling stations.

Additional reporting by Ibrahim Oruko