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Mathare residents attack police officers after accusing them of extorting money from dealers of local brew

By Michael Chepkwony and Cyrus Ombati | Dec 5th 2017 | 2 min read
Police officers patrol Mathare in Nairobi after a clash between residents on Sunday night. [Photo:Elvis Ogina|Standard]

Dozens of people, including police officers, were injured in clashes at Mathare slums triggered by a raid on a local liquor den.

What started as an ordinary police operation on Sunday afternoon degenerated into an orgy of violence that lasted for hours.

Initially the residents attacked the officers but later turned on one another.

One officer was hit with a stone on the face while another was robbed of his communication gadget before other officers arrived to rescue them.

A van and a motorcycle were destroyed as residents of Mathare and Huruma turned on one another in attacks that went on into the night.

Witnesses said the residents thought that it was the start of fresh politically motivated chaos.

“Many thought it was to do with President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga and started fighting,” said Otieno Jakochia.

When calm returned, many people were nursing injuries, with a local clinic in Mathare referring two serious cases to Kenyatta and Mama Lucy hospitals yesterday morning.

Police arrived

Witnesses told The Standard that trouble began when police arrived at the busaa den to arrest some individuals.

The culprits were crammed into the police vehicle, which took off, leaving two officers to watch over the remaining suspects who were locked inside the den.

“When the police car left, the residents started attacking the officers inside the den using stones,” said Mr Jakochia.

Backup police officers used teargas to try to disperse the rowdy residents, who accused the officers of extorting money from busaa dealers.

Police also shot in the air to disperse the surging crowd. No resident has been reported to have sustained injuries inflicted by police.

The residents sought treatment from the nearby Drugnet Medical Centre, where two cases were classified as serious.

A medical officer at the facility said there were several cases of minor injuries but two had been referred to Kenyatta and Mama Lucy hospitals.

Deep knife cuts

“We have Wycliffe and Francis. We cannot disclose their other names. One had deep knife cuts on his head and we referred him to Kenyatta National Hospital. Another had suffered a hand fracture and we advised him to seek x-ray services and treatment at Mama Lucy Hospital,” said the officer who sought anonymity because she is not authorised to speak to the press.

Grocers near the shanty refused to speak to journalists, saying they did not want to spark a confrontation with busaa dealers and police.

Officer bleeding

“Sitaki shida mimi. Niliona tu polisi damu ikimtoka na nikatoroka (I don’t want trouble. I just saw a police officer bleeding before I ran away),” said a grocer who identified herself as Maureen.

Starehe police boss Alice Kimeli said police were “investigating the incident at large".

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