Politician's Slaying Stokes Violence in Kenya The killing of an opposition politician added new fuel to the violence in Kenya on Tuesday as former United Nations chief Kofi Annan renewed efforts to mediate an end to the monthlong crisis. Government helicopters fired on mobs rioting in the Rift Valley, and clashes broke out in and around Nairobi.
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Politician's Slaying Stokes Violence in Kenya

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Politician's Slaying Stokes Violence in Kenya

Politician's Slaying Stokes Violence in Kenya

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ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is in Nairobi and she has the story.

OFEIBEA QUIST: Melitus Mugabe Were was a newly elected opposition legislator. Gunmen pulled up behind his car right outside the gate of Were's house, dragged him out and shot him dead. It was not immediately clear whether the killing was politically motivated or criminal. But the opposition described it as an assassination.

(SOUNDBITE OF PEOPLE WAILING)

QUIST: Unidentified Woman: We are ready to die (unintelligible)...

QUIST: At Were's house in a bourgeois Nairobi suburb, Police fired teargas into the compound to disperse mourners and supporters, some of whom were taunting officers.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNSHOTS)

QUIST: Gunfire could be heard in nearby Kibera slum, an opposition stronghold and notorious flashpoint. More bloody protests also broke out in Kenya's Rift Valley. An hour's drive from Nairobi, firing rubber bullets, military helicopters dive-bombed mobs wielding machetes and clubs at refugees of a different tribe trying to flee the violence.

KOFI ANNAN: It is absolutely essential and urgent that violence be stopped.

QUIST: Today, he launched formal mediation efforts to end the post-election crisis.

ANNAN: To the leaders gathered here today, I say this. The people need you, they want you to take charge of the situation and do whatever possible to halt the downward spiral into chaos that is threatening this beautiful and prosperous country. You have to act with urgency.

QUIST: Raila Odinga spoke first.

RAILA ODINGA: The national fabric has been broken. The very foundation of the state is crumbling. Violence is spiraling out of control. Unless we ourselves here resolve to act quickly to save our nation, there might be no nation left to save.

QUIST: And from President Mwai Kibaki...

MWAI KIBAKI: It is unfortunate that in some parts of the country, neighbors who have lived side by side peacefully for many years have been incited to hate one another and view each other as enemies. I feel deeply saddened to see Kenyans confronting one another violently.

QUIST: Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News, Nairobi.

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