'Why do they want to kills us': Raila's supporters served tear gas, bullets

A man makes his way through rising tear gas fired by riot police officers to disperse supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga in Nairobi, November 17, 2017. /REUTERS
A man makes his way through rising tear gas fired by riot police officers to disperse supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga in Nairobi, November 17, 2017. /REUTERS

Tear gas, gunshots and running battles were the order of the day for NASA supporters as they welcomed their leader Raila Odinga back from US.

Preparations were in advance and a large crowd was anticipated despite a warning by IG Joseph Boinnet.

Boinnet cited security concerns, the same reason why acting Interior CS Fred Matiang'i banned protests in the CBDs of Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa weeks ago.

But Raila's supporters gathered outside the JKIA in Nairobi on Friday and waited for him to land.

On foot, on motorcycles and atop cars, crowds shouted pro-Raila phrases and escorted the motorcade out of the airport. Lawmakers were also in the crowd that proceeded to central Nairobi.

Chaos took centre stage; two people were killed,

vehicles burned, bonfires lit and roads blocked.

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Policemen spray water to disperse supporters of

opposition leader Raila Odinga in Nairobi, Kenya November 17, 2017. /REUTERS

TV stations aired scenes from the protests during which sounds of gunshots and the firing of tear gas filled the air. The stubborn supporters took cover but some regrouped and returned to the streets where they threw stones at police in retaliation.

Others lay on the ground to keep from choking in clouds of tear gas.

Crowds surrounded the convoy of the 'people's president' as if to keep him from harm as the vehicles headed to Kibra for a rally.

The windscreen of his Range Rover was damaged.

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Riot police officers control supporters of

opposition leader Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition from accessing the Jomo Kenyatta airport upon his return in Nairobi, Kenya November 17, 2017. /REUTERS

Supporters of opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition, run as riot police officers fire tear gas to disperse them along Mombasa Road, Kenya November 17, 2017. /REUTERS

Those who had encountered tear gas washed their faces and joined others in song and dance on the streets.

"We will resist all forms of intimidation," one was heard saying.

The term 'resist' has not left supporters' mouths since NASA MPs chanted it while announcing a boycott of products by Bidco, Brookside Dairies and telecommunication giant Safaricom.

Another said:

"Mbona wanataka kutuua? Tumefanya nini (Why do they want to kill us? What have we done)?"

Some of the people angered by police response picked up the canisters they fired and hurled them back. The number of officers increased as the crowds became more unruly.

Riot police officers control supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition from accessing the Jomo Kenyatta airport upon his return in Nairobi, Kenya November 17, 2017. REUTERS

A standoff ensued on Haile Selassie Avenue when police intensified their counter. Some were seen picking stones and throwing them at the crowds.

Guns were loaded as the demonstrators ran in different directions.

"Wananchi tibim! Wanachi fire! Wananchi Riaat," went the chants as the cat and mouse games carried on and so did police operations.

Leaders who accompanied Raila claimed he was a target by Interior ministry spokesperson Mwenda Njoka dismissed the reports as "false and absolutely baseless'.

"Under attack on Haile Selassie Avenue. Baba's convoy coming under direct hit," Nairobi woman representative Esther Passaris had said.

Raila is expected to comment on the events and give his supporters direction.