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Four injured as police clash with rioters

BUSINESS
By | November 11th 2010

By RENSON MNYAMWEZI

Taita Taveta County

At least four people were injured in a clash between anti-riot police officers and matatu operators who wanted to barricade the busy Mombasa-Nairobi highway in Voi.

A bus belonging to Chania Bus Company and a matatu were extensively damaged after angry demonstrators pelted them with stones as a matatu operators’ strike entered its third day. The injured were rushed to Moi District Hospital in Voi town.

Protesters had barricaded the highway with logs, rocks and bonfires forcing road users to stay away before police arrived and cleared the road. GSU officers arrived in four lorries to contain the rowdy demonstrators protesting over the poor state of Voi-Mwatate-Wundanyi and Mwatate-Taveta roads.

Boda boda operators take part in the ongoing protests over poor road conditions in Taita Taveta. The strike entered its third day yesterday. [PHOTO: MAARUFU MOHAMMED/STANDARD]

"We were beaten up by the officers but no amount of force will deter us from demanding our fundamental rights," said Livingstone Mrefu.

Another victim said he was attacked as he hawked his wares along the highway. John Kiteli, 54, from Mtito Andei, said he was not part of the protesters. He said a Good Samaritan took him to the hospital.

Excessive force

Fracas started when the demonstrators heckled and booed Coast PC Ernest Munyi, forcing him to cut short his speech. Munyi had come to plead with the protesters, who had camped at the highway, to abandon the strike and give the Government time to rehabilitate the dilapidated roads.

Efforts by Voi Mayor Hope Sanguli to convince residents to allow the PC to address the public were fruitless.

However, Coast PPO Leo Nyongesa said the highway had been opened and normalcy returned. He denied claims police used excessive force on peaceful demonstrators.

"We did not use guns or tear gas to disperse anybody nor did we beat the demonstrators. We’re only here to maintain peace and ensure the free flow of traffic in the area," said Nyongesa on telephone.

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