Leakey attacked by Kenyan youths

Nairobi - Youths from Kenya's governing party beat up Richard Leakey, the renowned palaeontologist turned opposition politician, yesterday and police later joined in to whip and club opposition activists and journalists.

Mr Leakey - whose move into opposition this year as secretary-general of the Safina (Ark) party enraged President Daniel arap Moi - showed his back, covered in red weals, and his bruised hands at a news conference. He said he also had been struck on the head.

About a dozen youths identified as members of Mr Moi's Kenya African National Union (Kanu) attacked Mr Leakey, 50, with pickaxe handles and rubber whips outside the court in the provincial town of Nakuru. The conservationist, who lost both legs in a plane crash in 1993 and uses artificial limbs, limped to his vehicle as he shielded a female party official. An aide pushed him inside while police fired into the air to disperse the crowd, which battered his Land Rover as he fled.

Police later beat up journalists, including Louise Tunbridge of the Daily Telegraph, who said she had asked policemen watching the attack on Mr Leakey why they were doing nothing. "They just smirked and smiled,'' she said. "It was obviously organised as an attack and they knew their part in it.".

Standing next to his Land Rover with all but one window smashed, Mr Leakey said in Nairobi he went to Nakuru to drop off an MP, Paul Muite, and another Safina member to visit the dissident Koigi wa Wamwere, who faces the death sentence if convicted of raiding a police station in 1993. The Rift Valley provincial police said Mr Leakey and other activists had tried to address a hostile crowd, which "went wild" until police fired two shots in the air.

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