Violent clashes in Nairobi have left at least five people dead when live ammunition was fired into crowds of opposition supporters. The protesters had rallied to welcome back opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Scores of people were wounded and at least five people killed on Friday in confrontations between Kenyan police and supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga as he returned from an overseas trip.
Kenya's opposition National Super Alliance coalition (NASA) and police provided conflicting accounts of the violence that took place in Nairobi.
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Police said five people were stoned to death by angry mobs, denying that they had used excessive force against opposition supporters. Images aired live on television also showed groups of youths throwing stones at officers.
The opposition and eyewitnesses, on the other hand, said police had used tear gas, water cannon trucks and live ammunition against the crowds.
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"These supporters of NASA were unarmed civilians peacefully exercising their right to assembly," Odinga said in a statement. He added that he blamed the "reckless, insensitive and primitive response" on Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Photographers with Reuters news agency and the Associated Press reported that several dead bodies at the scene had gunshot wounds.
Footage broadcast live on television showed a group of youths, who said police blocked them from going to the airport, throwing stones at police
Deadly clashes ahead of court ruling
Earlier this week, Nairobi police warned that they would not allow a rally to welcome Odinga back from his speaking engagements in the United States and Britain.
On Friday, authorities reportedly formed a cordon around the park where Odinga had been expected to address supporters, with police firing tear gas on those walking towards the area.
Odinga claimed that the violence was planned by the government to create "an atmosphere of fear and chaos in which the Supreme Court has to make its ruling."
Kenya's Supreme Court is set to rule on Monday whether to nullify last month's rerun presidential election. The vote saw Kenyatta win a second, five-year term with 98 percent of the vote that saw only 39 percent of voters take part after Odinga boycotted it.
The court previously overturned the results of August's initial presidential vote, becoming the first court in Africa to do so. At least 70 people have died in political unrest since then.
rs/jm (AP, AFP, Reuters)