Kenyan po­lice end siege at home of deputy pres­i­dent

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Elite Kenyan se­cu­rity forces yes­ter­day killed a man at the home of Deputy Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Ruto, end­ing a 20-hour siege that left one of­fi­cer dead and another wounded, se­cu­rity of­fi­cials said. Ruto and his fam­ily were not at the vast prop­erty in the north­west of the coun­try when Satur­day’s at­tack be­gan, less than two weeks be­fore what are ex­pected to be tight­ly­fought elec­tions. Ruto con­demned the vi­o­lence at a cam­paign rally on Sun­day.

“Those who seek to frus­trate our unity, un­der­mine our progress or work to­wards de­stroy­ing our na­tion­hood will not suc­ceed,” he told sup­port­ers in the town of Mu­rang’a. There are dif­fer­ing ac­counts on how many at­tack­ers were in­volved but the in­ci­dent ap­peared to have ended Sun­day when Kenya’s po­lice chief Joseph Boin­net said one as­sailant was shot and killed. “The sit­u­a­tion is un­der con­trol,” he said, not­ing that the drama started when a ma­chete wield­ing man at­tacked and badly in­jured a po­lice of­fi­cer guard­ing Ruto’s home, be­fore storm­ing the com­pound.

Re­gional se­cu­rity co­or­di­na­tor Wanyama Musyambo said the as­sailant then took one of­fi­cer hostage in a room used as an ar­mory by po­lice guards. “It was a very del­i­cate op­er­a­tion be­cause, be­ing in the ar­mory, he was at an ad­van­tage and was fir­ing var­i­ous weapons, and this caused con­fu­sion be­cause you would think there was more than one per­son fir­ing,” Musyambo said.

Both the of­fi­cer taken hostage and the gun­man were later killed, Musyambo said. Sev­eral se­cu­rity sources had earlier told AFP that the as­sault was staged by sev­eral peo­ple us­ing guns, rais­ing the pos­si­bil­ity that some of the at­tack­ers re­main at large. “There are armed peo­ple who staged the at­tack and have shot the GSU of­fi­cer and stolen his gun,” one se­cu­rity of­fi­cial said, re­fer­ring to the elite po­lice Gen­eral Se­cu­rity Unit de­ployed to guard Ruto’s house.

Ten­sions mount­ing ahead of vote

The deputy pres­i­dent had left the house shortly be­fore the at­tack to at­tend ral­lies along­side Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta, his run­ning mate who faces a re-elec­tion con­test on Au­gust 8 against long­time op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga. Satur­day’s at­tack oc­curred de­spite the round-the-clock pres­ence of GSU guards at the prop­erty, near the town of El­doret, some 300 kilo­me­ters north­west of the cap­i­tal Nairobi.

Moses We­tang’ula, leader of one of five op­po­si­tion par­ties in the coali­tion back­ing Odinga, called the in­ci­dent “un­for­tu­nate” in com­ments to The Stan­dard news­pa­per, but ques­tioned if it wasn’t also an at­tempt to heighten se­cu­rity fears ahead of the vote. “We hope it is not a ploy to play vic­tim ,” We tang’ ula said.

Ruto’s home sits in Kenya’s west­ern Rift Val­ley area, the flash­point for an out­break of elec­tion vi­o­lence af­ter the dis­puted 2007 polls that killed 1,100 peo­ple and tar­nished Kenya’s im­age as a re­gional bea­con of safety and sta­bil­ity. Ac­cord­ing to opin­ion polls, this year’s elec­tion will be close and ten­sions have been ris­ing. Odinga has re­peat­edly claimed the gov­ern­ment is schem­ing to steal the elec­tion, while Keny­atta has ac­cused Odinga of try­ing to de­lay the polls.

Earlier this month, Hu­man Rights Watch said it had re­ceived re­ports of threats and voter in­tim­i­da­tion in Naivasha, a hotspot town in 2007 and one of the po­ten­tial trou­ble spots in this year’s elec­tion. In the Rift Val­ley, hate speech fly­ers have been cir­cu­lat­ing and some lo­cal res­i­dents have al­ready left their homes. The 2007 blood­shed haunted both Ruto and Keny­atta long af­ter it ended, when the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court put both on trial for or­ches­trat­ing the vi­o­lence. Those charges were later dropped, with ICC chief pros­e­cu­tor Fa­tou Ben­souda blam­ing a re­lent­less cam­paign of vic­tim in­tim­i­da­tion for mak­ing a trial im­pos­si­ble. — AFP

NAIROBI: In this file photo taken on June 26, 2017 shows Kenya’s Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta (R), flanked by Deputy Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Ruto, ges­tur­ing dur­ing the un­veil­ing of the Ju­bilee Party’s man­i­festo. — AFP

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