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People stealing sheep.

Image caption,

Some people walked away from the farm carrying sheep over their shoulders

By Emmanuel Igunza, Catherine Byaruhanga, Jeff Sauke & Ferdinand Omondi

BBC News, Nairobi

Crowds have reportedly set fire to parts of a farm owned by the family of former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, during another day of fierce opposition protests.

A BBC journalist at the scene in Nairobi’s outskirts saw the invaders stealing sheep, with one man saying he was selling it for $23 (£19).

There were no police in sight and some of the looters were carrying machetes.

Others were felling trees, and many of the people on site had been bussed in.

Many businesses near the farm and in the city centre remained closed. A gas factory linked to opposition leader Raila Odinga has also been vandalised.

The invasion of the farm appears to be in retaliation for protests called by Mr Odinga, who is allied to Mr Kenyatta.

Mr Odinga has told the BBC he bears no responsibility for the distraction of property by protestors, and alleges that the attack was carried out by thugs hired by the government. Kenya’s government has not commented on the allegation.

Post-election violence is nothing new in Kenya. But for the first time Mr Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta – the son of Kenya’s first president and one of the richest men in the country – have had their property targeted and in broad daylight, signalling a big shift.

At least one person has been killed in the protests in the western city of Kisumu, an opposition stronghold, where police fired tear gas at protesters who burnt tyres and barricaded major roads.

Since the protests began last week, at least three people have been killed in the violence.

In Nairobi’s Kibera neighbourhood, where Mr Odinga enjoys huge support, police have fired tear gas at stone-throwing protesters.

Mr Odinga and his Azimio la Umoja coalition first called for demonstrations earlier this month to protest against government failures to curb rising prices, and what he says was the fraudulent victory of President William Ruto in last year’s election.

Even though that win was upheld by Kenya’s highest court, Mr Odinga insists that the election was “stolen” and has called for protests every Monday and Thursday.

The main men in this political tussle have all worked with each other at some point.

Mr Odinga is a former prime minister who has run for president unsuccessfully five times. As ex-President Kenyatta’s tenure neared its end, he chose to back his former rival Mr Odinga instead of his own deputy Mr Ruto.

Back in 2007 Mr Ruto was Mr Odinga’s running mate in that presidential election, which was won by Mr Kenyatta.

The Kenyatta family is one of Kenya’s biggest landowners. Kenya’s political and business elites are tiny in number and often closely linked.

There is often a sort of gentleman’s agreement after each election cycle between opposing sides. Attacks on property owned by political leaders, even though we don’t know how they were organised, call that general understanding into question.

Some looters at the Kenyatta family farm claimed they were getting even for business losses caused by protests organised by Mr Odinga and allegedly sponsored by Mr Kenyatta.

Those comments and their actions seemed to echo the words of the leader of the majority in parliament Kimani Ichung’wah, who said at the weekend:

“If property of any Kenyan is attacked, we will also invade your farms and those who have no land will also be able to own land… You will pay the price if you continue to instigate violence and bloodshed in this country and that is my message to none other than Uhuru Kenyatta, the sponsor, sole sponsor, singular financier of Azimio and mercenary that is Raila Odinga.”

When contacted by the BBC on Monday, Mr Ichung’wah denied that he had any links to the invasion of Mr Kenyatta’s farm. He did not provide any evidence for his claims that the former president was financing Mr Odinga.

During Monday’s street protests some of the media report deliberately hostile and intimidating treatment. Local and international journalists covering the protests in Kibera were robbed at knifepoint by a mob.

A journalist with the Nation Media group said he was forced to delete his photos by the police while monitoring events in central Nairobi, and that his press card was destroyed.

Meanwhile two journalists with Africa Uncensored, a media company specialising in investigations, were detained in a police van for half an hour before being released. They then headed to the ex-president’s farm, where they were harassed by members of the large crowd and had a phone stolen, forcing them to flee.

Kenyan police have not yet commented on the attacks or detentions of journalists.

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