Kenya minister charged in rustling-related deaths

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Kenya charged a junior government minister on Monday with inciting violence after livestock raiders murdered at least 32 police officers in a military-style ambush this month.

Legislator David Ethuro was charged alongside wildlife assistant minister Josephat Nanok.

The charges have raised fears some politicians remain bent on stoking unrest for political gain ahead of a presidential vote due in March — the first presidential poll since a disputed vote in 2007 unleashed nationwide bloodletting.

In September, two other ministers were accused of inciting violence after incidents in the capital, Nairobi, and in the coastal Tana Delta region.

Four Kenyans, including two presidential aspirants, face charges of crimes against humanity at a U.N. war crimes court for the 2007 violence.

The ambush was described as the worst single attack on police in Kenya’s history.

Police said Nanok and Ethuro, both members of the ethnic Turkana tribe suspected of being behind the ambush, had uttered words that indicated or implied that it was desirable to bring death or physical injuries to police officers.

Unconfirmed media reports said up to 42 bodies had been recovered in the rugged Suguta valley where the attack occurred.

The Kenyan government has deployed soldiers, paramilitary forces and police to the valley — dubbed the Valley of Death — to track down the cattle raiders who fired machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades at pursuing officers.

– Reporting for Reuters by Humphrey Malalo, writing by Richard Lough.