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Kenyan Schoolgirls Raped During Demonstration

Kenyan police are investigating the rapes of at least 10 schoolgirls who were part of a large, late-night demonstration against their school administration.

Police spokesman Jaspher Ombati tells VOA about 700 students left the compound of Kangubiri High School in Nyeri north of the capital late Sunday night to show their displeasure at the school administration.

He explains what happened during the course of the demonstration.

"These girls were on the road. Every moment they could see a vehicle coming, they could scatter. This really made them more vulnerable, because they were scampering into the nearest thicket to take cover, maybe thinking those were police officers coming," he said. "According to the officer on the ground, some of them were attacked when they went to hide."

Ombati says as many as 30 girls or more could have been raped, but are not reporting the attacks because they have been traumatized.

He says the noise that the students were making may have attracted the attackers to the scene.

Police say they are investigating, but no arrests have been made.

News reports say the demonstration was triggered by anger over the quality of school food, changes in the wake up time for students and what was described as "high handedness" by the administration.

The rapes are part of a wave of crime that has swept the nation. The United Nations Development Program recently identified crime as being a major obstacle to private investment.

A group of Kenyan and international aid agencies released a report last year saying that rape, incest and indecent assault had increased four times over the past four years.