Kenya police kill 3 people after clash over coronavirus face masks turns violent

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Police in Kenya killed three people as a crowd of motorcycle taxi drivers gathered to protest the arrest of a colleague for not wearing a coronavirus mask, according to reports Friday.

The BBC quoted a police statement as saying officers shot at the crowd in the small town of Lessos after clashes broke out. The police have ordered the arrest of the officers involved.

Human rights activists for weeks have protested alleged killings by Kenyan police officers while enforcing virus-related restrictions, the Associated Press reported. They also accuse officers of using the measures to extort bribes.

A witness to the shooting, Kenneth Kaunda, told the AP that Lessos residents were tired of police shaking down people for not wearing masks.

Kenyan police officers inspects the identification of a resident at a checkpoint in Eastleigh, Nairobi, on May 7, 2020, following the Kenyan government's announcement of partial lockdown in two COVID-19 coronavirus hotspots, Eastleigh in Nairobi and Mombasa City for at least 15-days, where there shall be no movement into and out of the places. (Photo by SIMON MAINA / AFP) (Photo by SIMON MAINA/AFP via Getty Images)

Kenyan police officers inspects the identification of a resident at a checkpoint in Eastleigh, Nairobi, on May 7, 2020, following the Kenyan government’s announcement of partial lockdown in two COVID-19 coronavirus hotspots, Eastleigh in Nairobi and Mombasa City for at least 15-days, where there shall be no movement into and out of the places. (Photo by SIMON MAINA / AFP) (Photo by SIMON MAINA/AFP via Getty Images)

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The BBC cited local media as saying that one of the victims was a cobbler who tried to intervene when police were demanding a small bribe from a motorbike taxi driver they were harassing for not wearing a mask.

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The Daily Nation newspaper reported that hundreds of villagers followed the police back to the station and set alight a police officer’s house, according to the BBC.

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In the last three months 15 people, including a 13-year-old boy, have been killed by police while enforcing the new restrictions, a watchdog group has said. Human rights activists now put the figure at 21.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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