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Kenya: 3 People killed in clash with police over face masks

June 29th, 2020 | Tags:
Kenyan police officer Duncan Ndiema Ndiwah (right) appears to face murder charges at the High Court on June 23, 2020. Photo: AP
AP

NAIROBI, Kenya — A witness says three people were killed in a small town in Kenya’s Rift Valley during a confrontation between police and residents over the wearing of face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Police confirmed the deaths but gave a different account.

Human rights activists for weeks have protested alleged killings by Kenyan police officers while enforcing virus-related restrictions.

They also accuse officers of using the measures to extort bribes.

Kenneth Kaunda told The Associated Press that violent protests erupted in Lessos on Thursday after residents tried to prevent police officers from taking a motorcycle taxi rider to the station for not wearing a mask.

Kenya has made it compulsory to wear face masks in public and failure to comply brings a $200 fine, a hefty fee for many.

Kaunda says residents were tired of police shaking down people for not wearing masks.

He asserted that a policeman who had arrested the driver opened fire at the angry crowd, killing a local cobbler.

“He shot at least five times into the crowd,” said Kaunda, a stonemason.

Angered by the cobbler’s death, residents set fire to the house of the local police chief and attacked a police station with stones. In the chaos two other people were shot dead, Kaunda said.

Police said something else sparked the incident.

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