Land dispute turns into arson in Kenya slum

A crowd commited an arson of a church on Friday in one of Africa's largest slums after a long-running land dispute that flared into violence. Nobody was injured.

Police officer Herbert Khaemba said that there was a dispute between the local Nubian community, which is mainly Muslim, and the Presbyterian church over who owned the land in the slum of Kibera on the outskirts of Nairobi.

Local resident Abdullah Musa said that the attack was sparked when owners of the church compound, which mainly consisted of flimsy structures built with corrugated iron sheets, extended its perimeter fence over a disputed strip of land two days ago. Muslims had previously used the area to pray.

Police officers watched as about 100 angry youths vandalized vehicles and pelted a fire truck with stones, smashing its windshield, after firefighters arrived on the scene.

Musa said officers had fired shots in the air as they arrived to try to clear the crowd, but the angry Nubians had ignored them. Stone-throwing youths had earlier driven away a handful of guards inside the compound who had machetes, he said, but no one was injured.

Later, the attackers seized the metal sheets that had been used to set up several temporary structures inside the compound.

Population pressure, poverty and lack of infrastructure frequently contribute to tensions between communities in Kibera, which has around 1 million inhabitants.

Nubians came to Kenya from Egypt and Sudan after serving with the British Army in the King's African Rifles regiment during World War I. The British settled them in Kibera, a maze of potholed tracks and ramshackle dwellings topped by rusting iron roofs.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova