Kenya Riots Kill 50 in Church Blaze

At least 50 people were killed today when an angry mob set fire to a church where 200 people sought refuge from tribal violence, and turned it into a deadly inferno.

The most horrific incident yet, in the post-election violence that has ripped through Kenya, came as four members of the electoral commission of Kenya reportedly called for an independent judicial review of the vote-counting process.

"We need an independent person or body to look at our activities. Then, we can tell Kenyans what went wrong — if our colleagues agree," commission member Jack Tumwa said at a news conference with three of his colleagues, Daniel Ndambiri, Samuel arap Ng'eny and Jeremiah Matagaro, according to The Standard newspaper Web site.

Violence has been rising in Kenya since the closely fought election Thursday. When incumbent President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner, Sunday, in a narrow victory over challenger Raila Odinga, rioting broke out in Nairobi and other cities.

After today's attack on the church, a local reporter told the Associated Press that youths came to the building and fought with boys guarding it, "but they were overpowered," said the reporter. He said he saw up to 15 bodies. "They were charred. I could not look at the scene twice," he said.

Witnesses said more than 200 members of the Kikuyu tribe, of which Kibaki belongs, had fled to the church to escape attacks by the dominant Kalenjin tribe near the city of Eldoret.

The incident is reminiscent of tactics used in the Rwandan genocide of 1994, and is further evidence that the country is on the brink of imploding since Kibaki's disputed re-election.

Reports of violence against Kikuyus are surfacing all over the country as many of Kenya's 42 tribes take out their anger over what they believe were rigged elections. So far, more than 200 people have died in the riots.

European Union election observers said the vote count could not be considered accurate and called for an independent investigation into the allegations of vote rigging in Kenya's presidential election, giving Kibaki a second term.

"General elections in the Republic of Kenya have fallen short of key international and regional standards for democratic elections," the observation team said in a statement today.

Chief EU observer Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, told a press conference today that while election observers were allowed access to the voting, they were not allowed to observe the votes being tallied.

Odinga and his party, the Orange Democratic Movement, allege that the final vote numbers were tampered with to ensure Kibaki's re-election.

The EU observers noted discrepancies between the final presidential votes announced by the Election Commission of Kenya in Nairobi and the numbers given at individual polling stations.

"We believe it is vital that an impartial investigation into the accuracy of the presidential results is conducted, and the results from all polling stations are published to enable an independent audit to be carried out," said Lambdorff.

Though initially congratulating Kibaki on his re-election, State Department spokesman Tom Casey released a statement yesterday stating that "the United States has concerns about irregularities in reporting the results, which should be resolved promptly through constitutional and legal remedies."

But neither Kibaki nor Odinga seems willing to budge. In a New Year's address to the nation last night, Kibaki said the elections were "free and fair" and that security forces would crack down on those who challenge "peace."

Odinga is determined not to concede and talks to the press daily. Yesterday he called Kibaki a "dictator," saying he was no better than Ugandan despot Idi Amin for "stealing" the election from Kenyans.

Odinga is calling for a million protesters to attend a Nairobi rally Thursday to demand that Kibaki step down. But the government has already declared the rally illegal, which could lead to Odinga's arrest and more bloodshed.

Human Rights Groups Criticize Kenya

Human rights organizations have also expressed alarm at the Kenyan government's recent actions. Immediately after Kibaki's swearing in Sunday, the government imposed a ban on all local broadcasts and warned stations not to air any footage that could be seen as "inciting or alarming," or they would be shut down.

Amnesty international is calling for an investigation of police activity during the unrest. The human rights organization says it's concerned about reports of police shoot-to-kill orders and the large number of bodies being brought into morturaries around the country with bullet wounds.

International media has also condemned the election results and the government's behavior. An editorial in the U.K. newspaper The Daily Telegraph today called for Kibaki to be treated as any other African dictator and face sanctions and expulsion from the British commonwealth.

A spokesman for the Kenyan government was not available for comment.