The demonstrators were protesting the death of a 17-year-old girl who died in the cells at Bamba police station. The girl was 26-weeks pregnant.
A police commander and a rights activist were among scores of people injured after a peaceful demonstration turned chaotic in Ganze, Kilifi county on Friday.
Haki Africa deputy executive director Salma Hemed and Ganze subcounty police commander Timothy Muasya after rioters pelted officers with stones.
The demonstrators were protesting the death of a 17-year-old girl who died in the cells at Bamba police station. They said the girl was 26-weeks pregnant.
Hemed's phone was broken. "They (police) hit me on the head," she said.
The protesters had gathered at the Bamba Auction Yard, about 500m from Bamba trading centre to start the demonstration.
But they were stopped by anti-riot officers at the trading centre where Muasya requested to address the protesters.
They refused to be addressed by the officer and instead demanded that one of them who had been taken into custody be first released.
After consultations, it was agreed that the protesters accompany the police to the station where Muasya would eventually address them.
The demonstrators shouted "wauwaji...wabakaji" (killers... rapists) as they marched to the station with the police officers in front.
But things turned chaotic at the gate to the police station when some of the protesters started hurling stones at the security officers.
Police fired in the air to disperse the protesters who briefly engaged them in running battles.
In the melee, Hemed was beaten and injured.
“I was trying to engage the commander so that I could cool down the crowd for him to address us. But the police instead started beating me. They hit me on the buttocks and on the hand that I used to shield my head," Hemed said.
She accused police of the chaos.
"This was a peaceful demonstration but the police turned it chaotic,” Hemed said.
The protesters later regrouped at the trading centre with police remaining at the station before they were again deployed to reinforce their colleagues who had alerted the station that the rioters were advancing towards a bank they were guarding.
About ten people were arrested.
“This station is currently under investigation for the death of the girl. Many agencies are on this matter and the residents need to cool down until investigations are completed," Muasya said.
A post-mortem was conducted on Thursday but the results were yet to be made public. Another autopsy was scheduled for Saturday.
"We are waiting for the postmortem report and what I would advise the family or any other interested party is to get a private pathologist to conduct an independent report. Demonstrations are allowed but it should be within the law. Protesting with stones cannot be entertained,” Muasya said.
Those arrested were transferred to Kijipwa police station in Kilifi South for fear that residents would storm the Bamba station to free them.
edited by peter obuya