POLICE ARREST EXTORTION GANG

NAIROBI - Kenyan police have detained 120 suspected members of a criminal gang who extorted money from Nairobi's minibus drivers, police said yesterday.

NAIROBI - Kenyan police have detained 120 suspected members of a criminal gang who extorted money from Nairobi's minibus drivers, police said yesterday.

Arrests were made in several neighbourhoods in Nairobi, primarily at minibus stations late on Monday and early yesterday.

"The suspects were arrested where they have been extorting money from matatu operators," provincial police commander Antony Kibuchi said.

The organised crime gang, known as Mungiki, started as a sect-like group inspired by Kenya's Mau Mau freedom fighters and followed a blend of mystical Christian doctrines and traditional African practices.

The organisation, which has strongholds in Nairobi and in the heartland of Kenya's dominant Kikuyu tribe, evolved into an extortionist gang known for skinning, gouging or beheading its victims.

The Mungiki control several lucrative matatu lines in Nairobi and elsewhere.

Police launched a deadly crackdown against the gang in 2008, but former leader Maina Njenga was released from jail last year and baptised by an assistant minister, who also heads the Jesus Is Alive Ministries.

Njenga, who claims to represent 2million youths, is rumoured to be planning his own party in the run-up to the 2012 elections, and has been wooed by all sections of the political spectrum.

According to Daily Nation, Njenga was last month put under police surveillance for allegedly planning demonstrations against the police.

Njenga has been actively campaigning against a new constitution that will be put to a referendum next month. - Sapa-AFP

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