Nairobi - Some 200 members of an outlawed quasi-political sect were in Kenyan jails on Thursday after a police swoop, said a police spokesperson.
The members of the Mungiki sect were arrested last weekend for allegedly plotting an attack, Kenyan police said.
Swords, clubs and arrows were reportedly seized in raids in Kajiado district, south of Nairobi.
Mungiki calls for a return to what it describes as traditional African religious practices, advocates female genital mutilation and became notorious for attacking women wearing trousers instead of skirts.
It was blamed for Kenya's worst example of ethnic violence in the past year - the murder of 20 members of an ethnic Luo group in Nairobi in early March, allegedly in retaliation for the killings of four members of Mungiki, predominantly made up of ethnic Kikuyus.
Mungiki's national co-ordinator told the British Broadcasting Corporation that his group was not planning an attack.
Police in Kenya have arrested 200 members of the banned Mungiki sect, which has been blamed for violence in the capital, Nairobi.
The arrests are politically motivated and designed to intimidate members
Ndura Waruinge, Mungiki cooridator Weapons - including clubs, swords, and arrows - were recovered in raids carried out in the Kajiaro district, south of Nairobi.
The arrests come three weeks after the sect was blamed for the death of more than 20 people in riots in a Nairobi slum.
That violence had an ethnic dimension. The Mungiki sect is predominantly Kikuyu and they have been fighting a largely ethnic Luo vigilante group.
The Kajiando district commisioner said the latest arrests occurred during a meeting to plan an attack against an unnamed group.
Fighting for African values
But the Mungikis' national coordinator, Ndura Waruinge, denied that the group was planning an attack.
He said the arrests were politically motivated, and designed to intimidate members.
Those detained have not been formally charged, but are expected to appear in court soon.
The Mungiki sect urges people to return to traditional African lifestyles.
The sect was outlawed because it advocates the practice of female circumcision.
However, correspondents say it still operates widely, despite the ban.
Followers have long been engaged in battles with minibus touts, who they claim are behind the rise of insecurity in Nairobi.
NAIROBI - The Kenyan authorities recently banned a number of sects and vigilanteorganisations which, the police said, posed a threat to security in the country.However, this action needs to be backed up by additional measures if the banned groups are to be prevented from continuing to operate, according to the Legal Resource Foundation (LRF), a local human rights organisation operating under the umbrella of the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC).
If not followed up by concrete steps to eliminate their activities, the recent ban, which was only a temporary measure, could serve to drive the groups underground, thereby rendering them even more dangerous than before, the LRF program co-ordinator, Isabel Wafubwa, told IRIN on Wednesday.
On 8 March, the Kenyan police announced that 18 sects, groups and private armies - some of them linked to prominent politicians, had been outlawed, following a call by President Daniel arap Moi on the force to crack down on illegal organisations that "took the law into their own hands", and to ensure that no group operated above the law.
Notable among the groups banned were the Mungiki sect and the Taliban vigilantes, who were at the centre of a rampage in the Nairobi suburb of Kariobangi North on 3 March, in which 21 people were hacked to death.
Thirty-one others were reportedly injured when a gang of about 300 youths rampaged through the estate, wielding machetes and axes, allegedly because of a dispute between the Mungiki and Taliban.
The violence in Kariobangi also had an ethnic undercurrent, according to media reports. The Mungiki sect is predominantly Kikuyu, and its members were fighting the Taliban, largely made up of Luos, who had ostensibly been set up to deal with the crime in the area.
Members of the Mungiki sect, which urges people to return to traditional lifestyles, attacked bars belonging to ethnic Luos with machetes, sticks and clubs, apparently in response to the slaying of two Mungiki members in the neighbourhood on 2 March. The Mungiki even attacked members of the Luo and Luhya ethnic groups in their homes, according to the BBC.
The Kariobangi clashes sparked outrage on the part of the local media and human rights activists, who have linked the attacks to pre-election violence, which, they say, has dogged the country ever since the advent of multiparty politics in 1991.
The attacks took place just days after the Mungiki leadership announced that it would support the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) party and a number of its candidates, including Vice-President George Saitoti and Cabinet Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, for top posts during the general elections due later this year, the East African Standard reported. In its Tuesday editorial, the paper challenged the police commissioner to reveal the "political" sponsors of the Mungiki sect.
The police have denied any political connection to the attacks, blaming them on the "lawlessness" of Mungiki members, saying those responsible would be dealt with as criminals. "We are looking at it as criminal acts committed by criminals, and we are going to deal with them at that level," the police spokesman, Peter Masemo Kimanthi, told IRIN.
In addition to the Mungiki and Taliban groupings, the groups banned by Police Commissioner Philemon Abong'o comprise: Jeshi la Embakasi, Jeshi la Mzee, Bagdad Boys, Sungu Sungu, Amachuma, Chinkororo, Dallas Muslim Youth, Runyenjes Football Club, Jeshi la Kingole, Kaya Bombo Youth, Sakina Youth, Charo Shutu, Kuzacha Boys, Kosovo Boys, Banyamulenge and KamJesh.
Abong'o said some people had begun to make a habit of carrying offensive weapons - such as machetes and axes - in public places. "This is against the law, and anyone found going armed in public will be prosecuted," the Daily Nation reported. The police have said that rungus (clubs), simis (Somali swords) and spears traditionally carried by Maasai morans (warriors) are offensive weapons under the law.
Announcing the ban, Abong'o said the police had established that the 18 groups were "the perpetrators of lawlessness and insecurity in the country", the Daily Nation reported. "These groups are illegal, and Kenyans are advised to keep away from them and their activities. Adherents to the groups will be arrested and charged in court," he added.
Clear strategies needed However, Wafubwa warned on Wednesday that the outlawed groups would reconstitute themselves - as they had done in the past - unless the banning order was followed by "clear strategies" to ensure sustained monitoring of their activities. "An umbrella ban is not sufficient," she told IRIN.
"The groups have always existed, and continued with their violent activities, outside the law. How do you ban something that has never been a legal entity? They need to deal with each group according to its structure." The government has previously banned the Mungiki sect - because, among other things, it advocates the practice of female genital mutilation - yet is has been operating widely and with few apparent restrictions, according to observers.
Wafubwa attributed the rising numbers of such violent sects and vigilante groups to a combination of factors, which included laxity on the part of the police and political influence brought to bear on unemployed youths. "It is a custom for the Kenyan police to arrive much too late at the scene of a crime, they take too long to respond," she said. "But at some point you think the police's hands are tied: the Mungiki have had a long record of violence... you tend to think they are getting protection from somewhere." Some of the gangs operating outside the law were originally formed to do political dirty work, such as physically assaulting or intimidating opponents, usually fizzling out after completing their tasks, according to the Daily Nation. However, the police have said they now have political backing to tackle them. "The president himself gave the directions. The political aspect is clear. These groups can't popularise KANU or any other party through violence," Jesse Mituki, the deputy police spokesman, told IRIN on Wednesday.
Mituki said the police force had already begun a major crackdown on the groups. "We are still trying to crack them down. For now, we are concentrating on Nairobi, but soon we shall have the operation countrywide," he added.
At least six primary school pupils were among 37 people charged in Murang'a with being members of the outlawed Mungiki sect.
The group, including an elderly couple, were charged on Monday evening with holding an illegal assembly on March 10, carrying offensive weapons and assault.
They were also charged with smashing the windscreens of a police Land Rover and assaulting and injuring policeman Charles Nyakieni Ndege last Sunday.
The suspects, all unrepresented, appeared before Murang'a Senior Principal Magistrate Fatuma Wanjiku and denied the charges. The offences were said to have been committed at Shangai village in Maragwa District.
A 16-year-old standard seven pupil at Gathuri Primary School said he was arrested while at home for the weekend. His mother told journalists she learnt of her son's arrest on Sunday evening and went to Saba Saba police post, only to be told that he had been transferred to Maragwa Police Station. She said her efforts to see her son had been frustrated by police officers.
The magistrate said a probation officer would look into the matter and the court would make its decision known at the end of the week.
Mr Lukas Kimama, who was charged along with his wife Teresia Waithera, faced a separate charge of being found with six bundles and two rolls of bhang.
During the incident, in which it was alleged that the group engaged police in a three-hour running battle, the 50-year-old was reportedly found with a simi in "circumstances which indicated that he was out to cause terror".
Mr Kimama told the court that it was his children who were members of Mungiki. He said he had never used bhang. Mrs Kimama said she was arrested early yesterday morning as she was taking breakfast to her husband at the Maragwa police cells. She said their three grandchildren had been left all alone.
Magistrate Wanjiku ordered that the accused be released on Sh100,000 bond with two sureties of a similar amount. The case will be heard on May 8 following a mention on March 23.
Meanwhile, police have been ordered to produce the self-styled leader of the Kariobangi-based Taliban vigilante group in court.
High Court Judge William Tuiyot directed the police commissioner to appear before him tomorrow to show why Peter David Ochieng should not be set free.
The judge made the order after Mr Ochieng's lawyer, Mr Ojwang' Agina, applied to have him produced in court.
Mr Agina said Mr Ochieng, who was arrested on March 6 at the height of the Kariobangi North massacre that left over 20 people dead, was being held incommunicado at Kasarani Police Station.
Eighteen sects, groups and private armies linked to prominent politicians were outlawed yesterday.
Police said they posed a threat to security.
Top of the list were the Mungiki sect and the Taliban vigilantes who were at the centre of Sunday's massacre at Kariobangi, Nairobi, when 21 people were hacked to death.
Thirty-one others were seriously injured when a gang of about 300 youths rampaged through the estate, wielding pangas (machettes) and axes.
Other groups banned by police commissioner Philemon Abong'o were Jeshi la Embakasi, Jeshi la Mzee, Bagdad Boys, Sungu Sungu, Amachuma, Chinkororo, Dallas Muslim Youth, Runyenjes Football Club, Jeshi la Klngole, Kaya Bombo Youth, Sakina Youth, Charo Shutu, Kukacha Boys, Kosovo Boys, Banyamulenge and KamJesh.
Announcing the ban, Mr Abong'o said they had established the 18 groups were "the perpetrators of lawlessness and insecurity in the country".
"These groups are Illegal and Kenyans are advised to keep away from them and their activities. Adherents to the groups will be arrested and charged in court," he warned.
He added: "I have also noted that some people have made a habit of walking in public places carrying offensive weapons such as machettes and axes. This is against the law and anyone found going armed in public will be prosecuted."
Police said the law also categorised rungus (clubs), simis (Somali swords) and spears, traditionally carried by Maasai morans (warriors), as offensive weapons.
President Moi on Thursday ordered police to crack down on illegal organisations to ensure that no group operated above the law.
He told Mr Abong'o to ensure that no group took the law into its own hands and acted as a parallel police force.
The President blamed the police and provincial administration for failing to stop the killings at Kariobangi.
"No-one should blame me if he or she is sacked. I will even appoint retired army generals with good track records to areas where I want to see discipline streamlined," he said He added: "If you are sacked don't blame me, blame your work."
Police chief Mr Abong'o said the mushrooming of kiosks and other unplanned structures were a threat to security in most towns because obstructed smooth security operations.
Local authorities should put an immediate stop to them for the sake of security.
Embakasi MP David Mwenje will be charged in a Nairobi court today with incitement to violence.
He is being held at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport police station, according to Starehe MP Maina Kamanda.
A copy of the charge sheet says that on August 20 last year at Maili Saba, Dandora in Nairobi, he said; ''You cannot be defeated by Mwengenye group who number 500 people while you are 7,000 people. I can afford to buy you weapons including guns."
The words were intended to incite members of the public to violence, the charge says.
The charge sheet was signed by the Criminal Investigations Department of Buru Buru and witnessed by Mr Sammy Kimwele Mwagangi.
Mr Mwenje and 31 other people were arrested on Wednesday following the massacre at Kariobangi on Sunday night that left 21 people dead.
Mungiki sect leader Ndura Waruinge and Taliban vigilante group head David Peter Ochieng are among those held.
Mr Mwenje was first taken to Buru Buru police station and then transferred for an hour to Kasarani.
By last night he was still held at the airport, Mr Kamanda said.
NAIROBI - Kenya's president toured a slum in eastern Nairobi Friday where 23 people were killed by gangs wielding machetes and clubs and promised to improve security and replace any police commanders who fail in their duties.
President Daniel arap Moi, who was out of the country when the attack occurred early Monday, told residents of Kariobangi that Kenya's leaders, and those aspiring for leadership positions in elections expected later this year must make human rights a priority. He said he had ordered police commanders to beef up security in the low-income housing estate and threatened to replace them with retired army officers if such attacks continued.
Dozens of people were also injured in the attack when hundreds of men, allegedly belonging to a religious sect called Mungiki, rampaged through the area, attacking members of a vigilante group that calls itself the Taliban, and passersby, police and witnesses said. Others have suggested there might have been a political motive for the attack because the attackers were said to be from one tribe, while most of the victims were from another.
Politically driven ethnic violence preceded general elections in 1992 and 1997 that marked Kenya's return to multiparty politics.
Police said they have arrested several dozen people in connection with the attacks.
Moi said the government would pay for the funeral expenses of the victims and promised food aid to the families affected by the attack.
Police Commissioner Philemon Abongo issued a list of 18 illegal groups which the government says are responsible for increasing lawlessness in Nairobi and encouraged residents to report any information they may have about them.
The list included Mungiki and the Taliban.
Under the current Kenyan constitution, Moi must step down this year, but he has yet to set a date for the elections. He used the visit to Kariobangi to lash out at the main opposition Democratic Party, saying that the Democratic Party mayor of Nairobi had done little to stop rising crime in the city.
But human rights groups and the U.S. State Deptartment have criticized Moi's government for not doing enough to stop police torture and other human rights buses.
Embakasi MP David Mwenje and 31 other people were arrested yesterday, following the massacre at Kariobangi.
Mungiki sect leader Ndura Waruinge, and Taliban vigilante group head David Peter Ochieng were among those held.
The MP's lawyer said police were preparing to charge Mr Mwenje with inciting the violence.
Police commissioner Philemon Abong'o confirmed that Mr Mwenje and Mr Waruinge were being held for allegedly inciting the Sunday night violence at Kariobangi estate, in Nairobi.
"We don't arrest anybody unless we have sufficient evidence to justify it," he said.
Mr Abong'o added that the MP had other incitement charges pending in court.
Mr Waruinge was also being investigated over some remarks he allegedly made in Nyandarua on Saturday, said Mr Abong'o.
Members of the Mungiki sect and the Taliban vigilantes were said to have been at the centre of the bloodbath in Kariobangi, when 21 people were killed - the toll rose when one badly injured victim died in hospital - and a further 31 were seriously injured after a gang of about 300 youths rampaged through the estate wielding pangas and axes.
The gang's targets were the Taliban, who on Saturday were said to have hacked to death two Mungiki members in retaliation for the murder of one of the vigilantes.
The youths, said by police and residents to be from Mungiki, struck back at 8.30 pm on Sunday, hacking at anyone they could find.
Police said they were pursuing leads that the attack at Kariobangi was planned elsewhere before being executed with precision and speed.
Armed police arrived at the homes of Mr Mwenje and Mr Waruinge in Dandora and Ngong estates as dawn broke.
Mr Ochieng was arrested at Kariobangi at 2pm and taken to Kasarani police station amid tight security.
Mr Mwenje, of the Democratic Party, was first taken to Buru Buru police station and then transferred one hour later to Kasarani, where the squad investigating the massacre is based. The ten-man team is headed by Chief Inspector Daniel Mutie. On Tuesday, police gave an assurance that the squad would be impartial.
MPs Maina Kamanda (Starehe), Norman Nyagah (Kamukunji), Kiraitu Murungi (Imenti South), Paul Mugeke (Makadara) and Adolf Muchiri (Kasarani) were already at the station, trying to secure Mr Mwenje's release.
They said they will this morning go to court to have him released on bond.
Police questioned the Democratic Party MP for six hours then declared they were not releasing him. It remained unclear where Mr Waruinge was being held.
Mr Mwenje locked police out of his home until 8.30 am.
He said as he was being taken away: "About 30 armed detectives surrounded my house but I declined to allow them in. I could not take the risk because I did not know what they wanted."
He added: "I decided to accompany them to Buru Buru police station when they convinced me I was not under arrest. They told me they were verifying a minor issue."
It was at Buru Buru police station that the police told him he had been arrested over the Kariobangi killings.
Mr Mwenje's lawyer, Mr Mutavi Maseki, said the MP was made to record two statements on his alleged link with Mungiki and the Kariobangi violence.
"I have spoken to my client and he told me the police had informed him they were charging him with inciting the violence. The charges are fake since the police have not proved he was linked to the violence," he said.
He added: "They lured Mwenje to the police station under the pretext they were investigating an incident in which he was attacked by a woman over the ownership of a plot last week. They are now treating him as a suspect in the Kariobangi violence."
Mr Maseki said police were preparing to charge the MP in a court outside Nairobi.
Earlier Mr Abong'o directed the police to crack down on members of the sect and other vigilante groups countrywide.
A statement signed by police spokesman Peter Kimanthi read: "We note with concern that members of Mungiki Sect and some members of the vigilante groups have been involved in criminal activities with a view to destabilising security in the country.
"The Commissioner of Police has directed all the provincial and formation commanders to carry out intensive operations throughout the country to crack down on members of all the self-styled groups who are bent on perpetuating lawlessness and firmly deal with them in accordance with the law." In an extraordinary move, police released a list of the people killed in the fighting, not by name but by ethnic background.
They announced that among the dead were 10 Luos, three Luhyas, a Kisii and a Turkana. Six people remained unidentified. Of the 31 injured, 11 were Luos, nine Luhyas, five Kikuyus and two Kambas. Four others in critical condition had not been identified.
Outraged religious and political leaders yesterday charged that Mungiki people have been operating as if they were above the law.
Mungiki, a tradition-based, religious-cum-political outfit, is blamed for the cold-blooded killing on Sunday night of 23 people in Kariobangi North area of Nairobi.
And the police were accused of turning a blind eye to Mungiki as it grew from a controversial and little-known sect to a major security problem.
In Sunday night's operation carried out under the cover of darkness, the unsuspecting victims were hacked or clubbed to death in the streets, bars and houses or as they walked home from work.
Initial reports said the Mungiki were avenging the killing of two of their own on Saturday morning in a confrontation with a vigilante group that operates in the area.
Leaders were at a loss to explain how a 300-strong gang, armed with crude weapons, could descend on defenceless people and wreak havoc for three hours without the intervention of the security forces.
And as calm returned to Kariobangi North, Mungiki denied they were involved in the grisly killings. But Assistant Minister Fred Gumo and Minister Shariff Nassir charged that the sect had a political agenda in perpetrating the killings.
The killing of 23 people in Kariobangi North by Mungiki sect members elicited bitter and furious reaction from a cross-section of Kenyans.
Religious leaders, politicians and Nairobi residents were unanimous that the mayhem had become a major security threat.
Catholic Archbishop Ndingi Mwana a'Nzeki said despite receiving reports of the impending attack, police treated the matter casually and only mobilised its forces after the damage had been done.
Ford People presidential candidate, Mr Simeon Nyachae, wondered whether Mungiki was above the law .
Nyachae expressed outrage and disappointment at what he described as "indefensible heinous act of cold-blooded brutality by human beings against others."
He said Kenya is soon turning into a jungle where human life matters little to others and ordinary people are mere statistics. "Mungiki youth and their hirelings have been having running battles with the rest of society for a long time now while security forces have watched feigning helplessness," he said.
Ford Kenya Nairobi branch chairman Ferdinand Wanyonyi said the lorries used to ferry the groups to Kariobangi should be identified and their owners arrested Dagoretti MP, Beth Mugo, called for an urgent meeting between the Provincial Administration and Nairobi leaders to address the problem of rising insecurity.
Speaking at his Holy Family Basilica office, Ndingi questioned how 300 armed people, transported in lorries, can descend on an area without the intervention of the security forces.
Groups of youths wielding pangas and axes were taken in three buses to the Nairobi estate where they ran amok, killing 20 people and injuring at least 30.
The buses - one green and another brown - dropped off the raiders a short distance from where the attack began, on Kamunde Road in Kariobangi North, a witness said.
He spoke up as the government set up a special team to investigate the cause of the fighting - and Opposition leaders demanded the immediate resignations of security minister Julius Sunkuli and Commissioner of Police Philemon Abong'o for failing to stop the violence.
Both the police and the provincial administration were warned of the attacks by Kasarani MP Adolf Muchiri.
He said he had alerted the police on three different occasions, and that each time they assured him they had people on the ground ready to handle any outbreak.
A vigilante group leader said he too had warned the police three times of the impending attack but they had failed to act.
Residents attributed the violence to the long simmering dispute over rent and threats by some landlords to send in Mungiki members to enforce their demands.
However, Mungiki sect leader Ndura Waruinge denied his members' involvement in the Sunday night massacre.
An uneasy calm returned to Kariobangi, as police patrolled the streets and businesses began to reopen.
Shaken householders said they feared subsequent attacks, once the heavy police patrols were withdrawn.
The bereaved were making funeral arrangements while other residents tried to piece together details of the attack which they intended to present to the police for action.
They included the suggestion that the massacre could have been plotted during meetings landlords had been holding in an hotel in an apparent attempt to ward off future demands for lower rents.
"They feared that the rent problem in Korogocho would spread to this area," said one elder.
He said the violence may have been geared at intimidating tenants to reduce their bargaining power. He dismissed claims that some residents had refused to pay their rent.
Nairobi police chief Geoffrey Muathe had earlier said the rent issue was one theory being pursued by police investigating the killings.
They would also look into whether the violence was politically instigated - as some members of the Opposition claimed yesterday - or whether it was purely criminal.
One elder who has lived in the estate for the last 18 years, Mr George Odanga Adenyo, blamed insecurity for the killings.
"There has been very inadequate security in this area. After nightfall, one would easily be robbed of money and other valuables. The gangsters, were aged between 18 and 25 years and some were known to the local people," he said.
Mr Adenyo added: "They even went to the extent of raping wives and daughters in full view of husbands and fathers, after breaking into houses at night.
It was unbearable and it seemed that police were incapable of handling the problem."
That is when elders, especially from the violence-prone Gitathuru area, decided to form a vigilante group, called Taliban, Mr Adenyo said.
He said the Mungiki sect was not to blame and instead pointing his finger at the gangs whose activities had been checked by the vigilante group.
However other residents were categorical that Mungiki was involved. They said they had come to revenge the killing of two of their colleagues, attacked by Taliban members in a 3am fracas on Sunday.
"Mungiki should tell us why they slashed defenceless people in the area, if they had a problem with the Taliban they should have faced us " said Mr Okoth Siasia.
Abalibaho Bar owner Meshack Amauko commented: "People are too afraid of venturing into the night because of Mungiki."
He said the gang attacked his employees and smashed windscreens of his customer's vehicles.
Other residents ,who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said that the vigilante group had overstepped their jurisdiction.
"Although crime has really gone down, the vigilante group has been harassing people in the name of keeping security. That is the reason why there was the Sunday retaliation," one greengrocer said.
Taliban chairman David Peter Ochieng defended his group, saying: "We have been operating with the full knowledge and in conjunction with the police to stem insecurity in this area. The group, with a membership of about 250, was formed to deal with insecurity in this area. The members are from mixed ethnicity and don't belong to any particular tribe."
He added: "In fact, they are very happy with the job that we are doing. I could say that since this tension began building."
He had called Kasarani police on Sunday to warn them of the impending attack "but they just took it lightly."
"I talked to them in the morning, at 3pm and again at 5pm but they played it down," he said.
The Kenyan police are doing "their best" to track down and bring to justice the perpetrators of weekend attacks on a slum in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, in which up to 23 people were killed and 28 others injured, according to a spokesman.
The 23 people were hacked to death in Kariobangi North slums, in the eastern suburbs of Nairobi, and 28 others admitted to hospital with serious injuries, following fighting between an outlawed traditional sect and a local vigilante group, local media organisations reported.
A group of about 300 youths from the Mungiki sect, armed with machetes, picks and axes, attacked the Kariobangi North area on Sunday night, indiscriminately assaulting residents on the streets, in pubs, and even breaking into houses, according to news reports.
The Mungiki group was reportedly avenging the killing of two sect members the previous night by a local vigilante group, which calls itself "Taliban", on suspicion that they were gangsters preparing to rob houses in the area.
Police spokesman Peter Masemo Kimanthi told IRIN on Tuesday that the force was not to blame for the Sunday night killings, saying it had done its "very best under the circumstances".
"Some people have formed a habit of blaming the police for everything," he said. "We arrested people, we took the injured to hospital and collected the bodies. Kenyans should try to understand situations. We did our best in this case," he added.
The weekend slum killings have sparked outrage among local media and human rights activists, who have linked the attacks to pre-election violence, which, they say, has dogged the country ever since the advent of multiparty politics in 1991.
The attacks took place just days after the Mungiki leadership announced that it would back KANU (the ruling Kenya African National Union party) and a number of its candidates, including Vice-President George Saitoti and Cabinet Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, for top posts during the general elections due later this year, the East African Standard reported.
In its Tuesday editorial, the paper challenged the Commissioner of Police to reveal the "political" sponsors of the Mungiki sect.
"We do not want to ask where the police were the two nights Kariobangi North was turned into a field of blood and murder, because this was not the first time the Mungiki were demonstrating the criminality of its membership... Mungiki is boasting political connections. And the public must be told why Mungiki has always been allowed to get away with murder," it stated.
The Daily Nation newspaper quoted Adolph Muchiri, Member of Parliament for the area, as saying that he had warned the police and the local administration on Sunday morning of an impending attack, but both ignored his warning.
"Why did the area appear to be completely free of police patrols even after the so-called clashes between the vigilantes and the Mungiki?" the paper asked in its editorial on Tuesday. "These thugs must be caught," it added.
A human rights activist who spoke to IRIN on condition of anonymity on Tuesday said there was a political connection to the killings, and compared the nature of the killings - which included mutilation of body parts - to the Rwandan genocide of 1994, in which close to a million people, mostly ethnic Tutsi and moderate Hutus, were mutilated and killed.
"The way this thing has happened is very scary. These were ordinary citizens, but the type of killing was completely bizarre. It is frightening," he said.
"Why were the police so late? And why after the Mungiki leaders pledged to work with KANU?" he wondered.
The police have denied any political connection to the attacks, blaming the clashes on the "lawlessness" of members of the Mungiki sect and saying those responsible would be dealt with as criminals.
"We are looking at it as criminal acts committed by criminals, and we are going to deal with them at that level," Kimanthi told IRIN.
The police spokesman said that the vigilante groups, which have recently sprung up in crime-prone areas of Nairobi and other parts of Kenya, were also illegal groups, which would be treated like criminal gangs.
"I don't like the [word] vigilante. The term adds in an element of crime. Community policing is about partnerships, but vigilantes don't want to work with the police. We want situations where the police join communities to fight crime together," he said.
Julius ole Sunkuli, the cabinet minister in charge of internal security, said the government had declared an "all-out war" on thugs who were spreading terror in the city's slums, and assured the residents of Kariobangi that security would be stepped up in the area, the Daily Nation reported on Tuesday.
"Public security will not be compromised," Sunkuli added.
The controversial Mungiki sect will back President Moi and Kanu and not the opposition in the coming General Election, their National Co-ordinator, Mr Ndura Waruingi, has said.
The group will also back the Vice-President Prof George Saitoti to capture his Kajiado North parliamentary seat and reject the National Opposition Alliance (Nac).
Addressing members of the sect in Ngong town, Waruingi told the sect to ensure that Saitoti won back his seat as he has never engaged in politics of mudslinging.
Separately Mungiki vowed to back Uhuru Kenyatta in his political ambitions. And to this end, about 10,000 members of the group launched a campaign to support him during a function at Njorua High School in Laikipia.
The sect members transformed the Laikipia harambee function into a campaign platform for Uhuru and their National Chairman Maina Njenga, who is contesting the Laikipia West seat on a Kanu ticket.
On his part, Waruingi said the three main opposition chiefs, Mwai Kibaki, Charity Ngilu and Wamalwa Kijana were bound to fail in their unity bid as each one of them was power-hungry.
"We would rather vote President Moi and Kanu back to power than the doomed opposition alliance", said waruinge.
Earlier at the Laikipia function, Waruingi had said that with the available enormous resources, they would field over 150 candidates countrywide.
He said Mungiki was awaiting the March 18 Kanu/National Development Party merger meeting to decide who to back as the presidential candidate.
He told Kenyans not to underrate the sect as it had people and resources to change politics in Kenya. Mungiki adherents later disclosed that they had used over Sh1 million to mobilise the supporters for the occasion.
Kanu officials opposed to the Laikipia Kanu branch chairman, Mr Waweru Githua, said they will not allow the party to be hijacked and misused by Mungiki.
Before Uhuru's representatives Paul Hato the Thika vice-branch Kanu branch chairman headed to Ng'arua, the two rival groups exchanged bitter words in Nyahururu.
The police are now in control of the Nairobi slum
At least 20 people have been killed in a slum in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, in overnight riots.
Members of a banned religious sect went on the rampage after three of their members were killed, according to reports by the French AFP news agency.
The violence is believed to have an ethnic dimension. The Mungiki sect is predominantly Kikuyu and they are fighting a largely ethnic Luo vigilante group.
The BBC's Alice Muthengi in Nairobi says that the police are now in control and the streets of the Kariobangi slum are deserted.
Police have confirmed 20 deaths but local residents say that many more people may have been killed.
Members of the sect attacked bars belonging to ethnic Luos with machetes, clubs and hoes, AFP reported.
The Mungiki sect urges people to return to traditional life-styles.
The sect was banned because it advocates the practice of female circumcision, or female genital mutilation.
However, correspondents say that the sect still operates widely, despite the ban.
Vigilante groups have been set up in Kariobangi to deal with the high level of crime there.
Mungiki Movement (Kenya) Updates 2002
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