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Kenya / Student Protest - 2002-07-19


In Kenya, Nairobi city center was brought to a standstill today (Friday) as university students clashed with police over the shooting death of a student during what was described as a drug raid.

Hundreds of students swarmed through the center of Nairobi, bringing traffic to a halt. They marched to the police headquarters, calling for the resignation of police chief Philemon Abongo. Riot police used tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowd.

The students, from the University of Nairobi, began protesting Thursday evening, shortly after they learned that the police had earlier in the day shot and killed a student at the university, David Kimuyu.

Mr. Kimuyu was shot by police during a drug raid near the campus. Police spokesman Peter Kimanthi says the student charged at the police with a knife and an officer shot him in self-defense.

The rioting students do not believe the police version of events, as one explains: "How can one student, a young student, overpower four policemen with guns? That is impossible. That's why we are protesting. It was injustice. That's why we are rioting."

The students also charge that the police planted cannabis on the dead student, a charge the police deny.

Mr. Kimanthi, the police spokesman, appealed to the students to stop rioting and to talk with police about the shooting.

He said, "Demonstrations are not evidence. Evidence will come from people who witnessed what took place and that evidence will be presented before a court of law. It is the court that will decide. I don't think demonstrations and violence will get us anywhere."

The students have not had any response to Mr. Kimanthi's plea.

Human rights groups in Kenya charge that police are too quick to use their guns against suspects, and they say that the officers are rarely punished by the courts.

The rights groups are calling for the creation of an independent body to investigate killings by police.

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