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Maasai in fierce protests over arrest of leaders

30 January 2015, 09:21

Narok - Thousand of protests from Massai community on Thursday staged fierce demonstrations in Narok, to protest the arrest of their local leaders.

The angry residents blocked all roads in Narok, which also lead to the main town and near the world famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve, after five lawmakers from Narok were arrested late Wednesday for "incitement" that left one person injured and paralyzed business in and around the town.

Hundreds of tourists heading to the world famous game reserve were stranded as the angry residents blocked the road used to access to the park.

"We are going to block these roads until our leaders are released and brought here," one of the protesters shouted. At least two people were shot dead and six wounded in similar protests on Monday.

The protesters began blocking the roads on Wednesday night after Senator Stephen Ole Ntutu and four legislators were earlier arrested over demonstrations that occurred on Monday.

The local leaders had led protesters in Narok town on Monday seeking to remove Governor Samuel Tunai from office over corruption allegations. Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery said the leaders who led the demonstrations will be held responsible for holding the protest despite a directive from the CS barring any demonstrations or rallies in the area.

The protesters, armed with sticks and arrows, blocked the roads for several hours on Thursday. They also barricaded Narok-Nairobi highway. The angry residents used burning tyres and stones to block the road, and engaged police in running battles.

"If the police disperse protesters on one section of the road, they move a kilometer further and block another part," said one of the witnesses.

Also read: Narok Senator, MPs released on 0.5M bond

The witness said the town was inaccessible and that travellers were stranded, and the police were redirecting vehicles to the Kericho route in Rift Valley.

The police officers were patrolling the town and are escorting motorists, some of whom had their vehicles damaged by the protestors.

The five lawmakers were released on court later Thursday on personal bond of KES 500,000 each on condition that they shun criminal activity for the next 14 days as investigations continue. "We have just received information on what is going on in the ground in Narok and surrounding areas. Narok is in flames, road and property have been destroyed purportedly because their leaders have been detained," Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko told the court.

He however, urged the court to order the accused to present themselves before their investigating officer once a week and be banned from participating in any protests while insisting that "no one is above the law."

Tobiko withdrew his application for the detention of the lawmakers for seven more days after earlier asking for the extension saying the leaders would interfere with witnesses if released.

Tobiko recommended the personal bonds on condition that they shun criminal activity for the next 14 days as investigations continue.

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- Xinhua

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