Death Toll in Kenyan Clashes at 800

NAIVASHA, Kenya -- Hundreds of people from rival tribes confronted one another on a main road of Kenya's flower capital Monday, hefting machetes, clubs and rocks and retreating only when a handful of police between them fired live bullets into the air.

Trouble also broke out Monday in two other western towns. In Kisumu, similarly armed mobs set some houses ablaze. Gangs set fire to buses at the main downtown bus station, and one driver was burned alive in his minibus, according to witness Lillian Ocho.

In Kakamega, on the edge of a wildlife preserve, gangs looted and set ablaze a downtown hotel and two wholesalers, the Rev. Allam Kizili of the Pentecostal Church said. Police fired tear gas to try to stop the violence, he said. There was no immediate word on casualties.

A month of ethnic clashes has left 800 people dead. The fighting began after President Mwai Kibaki's Dec. 27 re-election, which his main rival Raila Odinga and international and local observers say was rigged. Much of the violence has pitted other ethnic groups against Kibaki's Kikuyu people, who have long dominated business and politics here. About 255,000 people have been forced from their homes.

Britain's visiting minister for Africa, Mark Malloch-Brown, came out of meetings with Odinga, Kibaki and their mediator, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, on Monday saying they were making little headway "because the level of anger at the two sides is just growing exponentially.

"The two sides are very far apart at this time," Malloch-Brown said.

He said that Odinga appeared eager for international mediation to succeed but "the government feels the situation is being manipulated and internationalized to weaken its control."

Kibaki has said that he is open to direct talks with Odinga but that his position as president is not negotiable. Odinga says Kibaki must step down and only new elections will bring peace.

The bloodshed has transformed this once-stable African country, pitting neighbors against one another and turning tourist towns into no-go zones.

In Kisumu on Monday, angry young men blocked roads out of the town with burning tires and rocks.

"Kikuyus must go! No Raila, no peace!" they yelled.

In Kisumu, some members of Odinga's Luo tribe took out their rage on Kikuyus, including the bus driver, who was burned to death.

"The road is covered in blood. It's chaos. Luos are hunting Kikuyus for revenge," said Baraka Karama, a journalist for independent Kenya Television.

Police opened fire. A morgue attendant said one man whose body was brought in had been shot in the back of the head. A school cleaner was also hit and killed by a stray bullet fired by a policeman, said Charles Odhiambo, a teacher at Lion's High School.

Violence spread over the weekend to Naivasha, 90 kilometers northwest of Nairobi, a previously quiet tourist town with a stunning freshwater lake. It is also the center of Kenya's horticultural industry and a key flower-exporting area.

"We have moved out to revenge the deaths of our brothers and sisters who have been killed, and nothing will stop us," said Anthony Mwangi, hefting a club in Naivasha on Sunday. "For every one Kikuyu killed, we shall avenge their killing with three."

At least 22 people were killed in the town over the weekend, said district commissioner Katee Mwanza, as Kikuyus set ablaze the homes of rivals from Odinga's Luo tribe.