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06/27/2020 Kenya (International Christian Concern) – A witness says three people were killed in a small town in Kenya’s Rift Valley during a confrontation between police and residents over the wearing of face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Police confirmed the deaths but gave a different account. Kenneth Kaunda told the Associated Press that, “violent protests erupted in Lessos on Thursday after residents tried to prevent police officers from taking a motorcycle taxi rider to the station for not wearing a mask. Kenya has made it compulsory to wear face masks in public and failure to comply brings a $200 fine, a hefty fee for many.”

Kaunda said residents were tired of police shaking down people for not wearing masks. He asserted that a policeman who had arrested the driver opened fire at the angry crowd, killing a local cobbler. “He shot at least five times into the crowd. Angered by the cobbler’s death, residents set fire to the house of the local police chief and attacked a police station with stones.” Police Inspector-General Hillary Mutyambai mentioned that the police officer who shot the cobbler had been suspended from work and arrested.

In the chaos, two other people were shot dead but police said something else sparked the incident. Kenya’s police spokesman Charles Owino said in a statement that “other motorcycle riders tried to prevent their colleague from being arrested for carrying two passengers. The government has restricted motorcycle taxis to carrying one passenger to prevent the spread of the virus.” Owino also accused the motorcycle taxi riders of trying to “snatch” a rifle from the arresting officer, leading to the shooting. The continuing pandemic is causing strife around the world and throughout Africa.

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