January 8, 2008 / 10:41 AM / in 11 years

Mutilated bodies found a week after Kenya massacre

KIAMBAA, Kenya (Reuters) - Faith Wairimu broke down into sobs when she stumbled across her husband’s remains in a field after days searching in vain.

A man wipes his face in front of a church where some 30 people were burned alive in Eldoret January 1, 2008. A week after a mob torched a church and killed 30 people in the worst single attack of Kenya's post-election violence, families are still finding mutilated bodies of loved ones in nearby fields. REUTERS/Stringer

His head and torso were missing.

“It’s him, he’s dead,” the farmer said, pressing her fist against her lips and closing her eyes to stem the tears.

“I recognize those were his trousers.”

A week after a mob torched a church and killed 30 people in the worst single attack of Kenya’s post-election violence, families are still finding the mutilated bodies of loved ones in nearby fields.

Corpses piled up on Tuesday in a mortuary in nearby Eldoret, and columns of smoke rose from outlying villages looted and burned in continuing attacks by gangs of youths.

Two police officers lifted the hacked-off legs of Wairimu’s husband into a sack and loaded it on to their pickup truck.

“God help us,” muttered one officer, shaking his head.

Youths rampaged in the Rift Valley’s Kiambaa village on January 1, attacking the Kikuyu tribe of President Mwai Kibaki who was declared winner of a December 27 poll that critics say was rigged.

The mob shut dozens in a church, blocked the door with a mattress and set the church on fire, residents said.

Around 30 people burned to death while the attackers chased others into the surrounding fields, hacking at them with machetes.

“I can’t believe they did this to him,” wept Wairimu late on Monday as she looked at her husband’s remains.

She said her mother had been killed by a poisoned arrow fired by one of the mob but she had held out hope she might find her husband alive.

“Where’s the rest of the body? These things shouldn’t happen in Kenya,” she said.


The official death toll from more than a week of clashes is nearly 500, though the opposition says it is twice as high.

Thousands of Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe have fled ethnic-based attacks and more than 250,000 people are displaced nationwide.

The Kikuyu are resented for their perceived stranglehold on the economy and politics, a feeling exacerbated by the electoral outcome.

Many have taken shelter in churches and police stations around Eldoret, the main city in the fertile Rift Valley about 300 km (190 miles) northwest of Nairobi.

Aid agencies are rushing food, plastic sheeting and other supplies to thousands forced from their homes.

Former presidents of Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania and Botswana visited thousands of refugees at a hastily constructed camp in Eldoret on Tuesday and promised to work for peace.

At the town’s morgue Robert Ruto, 22 and with a piece of cloth wrapped around his nose and mouth, waited to retrieve his brother’s body.

“He was cut up with a panga (machete). I don’t know why they targeted him — he’s not a Kikuyu. It was just a mob wanting to kill,” said Ruto, whose Kalenjin kinsmen were behind many of the attacks against Kikuyu in the area.

The remains of the church still smolder in the sun. A piece of a child’s sweater and a tiny incinerated shoe lie next to a heap of mangled bicycles.

“They mostly burned women and children because they were hiding,” said James Jenna, a 44-year-old farmer whose daughter survived the attack but is in intensive care, severely burned.

He was chased by men with machetes but escaped, he said.

“Is there a human being that can burn a church with people in? Unless they’re mad — no, even a madman cannot.”

Editing by Alistair Thomson and Robert Woodward

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