Police Accused of Killing 7 in Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya -- Kenya's opposition on Thursday accused police of killing seven people during a second day of clashes with demonstrators protesting against President Mwai Kibaki's disputed re-election.

In the capital, Nairobi, and the western towns of Kisumu and Eldoret, police fired tear gas and bullets during rallies called by opposition leader Raila Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement, but banned by police. More protests are planned for Friday.

Odinga, who accuses Kibaki of stealing victory in the Dec. 27 ballot, said police shot dead seven people in the capital.

"Police are shooting innocent civilians at will. ... The government has turned this country into a killing field of innocents," he told reporters.

Police had no immediate comment.

Witnesses saw three wounded men carried into a hospital in Nairobi's huge Kibera slum. One died from gunshot wounds to the neck, the witnesses and doctors said.

In the opposition stronghold of Kisumu, a witness said police shot dead two men and a woman. Relatives of a 10-year-old boy shot Wednesday said he had died in hospital.

Three other people were killed there Wednesday, including a youth seen shot dead by police in footage broadcast on local television.

Police said they were attacked first but there was growing criticism from human rights organizations and others of police tactics.

Kenya's rapid plunge into crisis has tarnished its democratic credentials, horrified world powers, scared off tourists and hurt one of Africa's most promising economies.

In the three weeks since the vote, more than 600 people have died in killings and clashes between police and protesters.

A quarter of a million people, mostly from Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe, have fled their homes in turmoil set off by a vote that foreign observers, including the Commonwealth on Thursday, say was deeply flawed.

In Kibera, part of Odinga's Nairobi constituency, a reporter said people had hijacked a train and stolen its cargo.

Earlier, a policeman in Mathare, who asked not to be identified, said some slum dwellers were shooting at officers.

In the Rift valley town of Eldoret, police chasing protesters fired tear gas into the emergency wing of the main hospital, striking a security guard, a hospital official said.

The European Parliament recommended that budgetary aid be frozen until the crisis is solved, although unlike many of its African neighbors, Kenya is not aid-dependent and gets less than 5 percent of its budget from it.

Western countries have urged Kenya to allow peaceful protests, but the government says tempers are too high and rallies would degenerate into looting and rioting.

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, due to lead talks to end the standoff, is recovering from a bout of flu that delayed his trip, the United Nations said, but gave no date for his arrival.

With few options left after Kibaki entrenched his administration and talks brokered by African leaders failed, the opposition has taken its fight to the streets.