Posted Jan. 28, 2008 – The death toll in Kenya continued to rise on Sunday as at least 20 more people were burned and hacked to death as members of incumbent President Mwai Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe clashed with Luos, who are supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga, Reuters reports.
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The latest spate of brutal killings brought the count to an astounding 800 people who have died since the Dec. 27 disputed election. Reports from various news agencies listed the number of deaths, concentrated primarily in western Kenya, from between 19 and 47. But the one thing that cannot be disputed is that the level of violence, fueled by a deadly mix of tribal hatred and political dissention, shows no end in sight.
The most recent wave of death and destruction occurred even as former U.N. General Secretary Kofi Annan is in Kenya to help mediate a peace agreement between the feuding sides.
Odinga, who says that 30 people had been burned to death, pointed the finger at Kibaki’s government, saying the self-proclaimed victor of the election is trying to divert attention away from the electoral dispute.
"What is now emerging is that criminal gangs, on a killing spree, working under police protection, are part of a well-orchestrated plan of terror to spread and escalate the levels of violence," Odinga said in a statement.
Said Dominic Karanja, a Kikuyu, speaking to Reuters: "It is as if every tribe is against us, and no one is protecting us."
The violence shook the brief moment of peace brokered by Annan, who on Sunday had asked both sides to pick four officials to continue a dialog, following his meeting with Orange Democratic Movement leader Odinga. Annan spent much of Saturday in the troubled Rift Valley, which has been rocked by the violence and, according to the diplomat, had escalated into "gross and systematic" rights abuses.
"Let us not kid ourselves and think that this is an electoral problem. It's much broader and much deeper," he said.