A mob torched a church where hundreds had sought refuge Tuesday, and witnesses said dozens of people—including children—were burned alive or hacked to death with machetes in ethnic violence that followed Kenya's disputed election.
The killing of up to 50 ethnic Kikuyus in the Rift Valley city of Eldoret brought the death toll from four days of rioting to more than 275, raising fears of further unrest in what has been one of Africa's most stable democracies.
They had fled to the Assemblies of God Church on Monday night, seeking refuge after mobs torched homes. Video from a helicopter chartered by the Red Cross showed many homes in flames and the horizon obscured by smoke. Groups of people were seen seeking sanctuary at schools and the airport, while others moved into the forest.
On Tuesday morning, a mob of about 2,000 arrived at the church, said George Karanja, whose family had sought refuge there.
"They started burning the church," Karanja said, his voice catching with emotion as he described the scene. "The mattresses that people were sleeping on caught fire. There was a stampede, and people fell on one another."
Karanja, 37, helped pull out at least 10 people, but added, "I could not manage to pull out my sister's son. He was screaming 'Uncle, uncle!' ... He died." The boy was 11.
Up to 50 people were killed in the attack, said a Red Cross official who spoke on condition of anonymity because her name would identify her tribe, and she feared reprisal. Even first aid workers were stopped by vigilantes who demanded their identity.
Karanja said his two children raised their hands as they left the church and they were beaten with a cane, but not killed. His 90-year- old father was attacked with a machete, but survived, he said.
"The worst part is that they were hacking people and then setting them on fire," he added.
The attackers saw Karanja saving people and began stoning him, he said. Karanja said he ran and hid—submerging himself in a pit latrine outside the church property. He stayed there about 30 minutes until he heard people speaking Kikuyu, he added.
The Kikuyu, Kenya's largest ethnic group, are accused of turning their dominance of politics and business to the detriment of others. Odinga is from the Luo tribe, a smaller but still major tribe that says it has been marginalized.
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