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At least 24 dead after clashes with sect in Kenya

  • Story Highlights
  • 24 people die in clashes between residents and members of outlawed Kenyan sect
  • Police have made 37 arrests in the Central province town of Karatina
  • They have confiscated machetes, axes and clubs
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NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- At least 24 people have died and three others have been seriously injured in clashes between local residents and members of an outlawed Kenyan sect, authorities said Tuesday.

Police said they have made 37 arrests in the Central province town of Karatina, about 60 miles northeast of Nairobi, and have confiscated assorted weapons, including machetes, axes and clubs.

The violence began late Monday, police said, when residents rejected attempts by the Mungiki sect to expel people from a neighboring community who are living in Karatina.

The Mungiki is a quasi-cult group largely made up of members of the Kikuyu tribe. Also known as the Kenyan mafia, the group is accused of being behind bloody clashes that left thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless during post-election violence in 2008.

The group has left entire neighborhoods paralyzed with fear, especially in the slums of Nairobi, where residents and small-business owners are expected to pay the group a small fee every month. People who defy the Mungiki are often killed in gruesome ways, including having body parts chopped off.

Mungiki means "multitude" in the Kikuyu language, which is befitting, because the group is thought to have more than 2 million followers in Kenya.

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