Kenyan army crackdown reported; parliament to debate power-sharing

The army on Monday used heavy firepower to crack down on a group linked to bloody land clashes in western Kenya, local officials said, a day before parliament was to debate - and possibly adopt - a power-sharing deal to end a deadly political crisis. The violence in the western Mount Elgon region underlines how difficult it will be for Kenya to retreat from the edge of violent breakup, even though politicians who clashed bitterly for weeks - and who are accused of fomenting some of the fighting - now are talking peace. Defense Department spokesman Bogita Ongeri declined to give details of the army's Mount Elgon operation, saying only troops were in the area to assist local officials. Ochiemo Cheptai, who identified himself as chairman of the Mount Elgon chapter of the Kenya Red Cross, said 30,000 people fled their homes after the army began pursuing members of the Sabaot Land Defense Force on Sunday, bombing several villages in the Mount Elgon area where militants were believed hiding. Red Cross officials in Nairobi challenged the 30,000 figure, saying they have not yet assessed the numbers fleeing.