A Kenyan riot policeman repeatedly kicks a protester as he lies in the street after tripping while trying to flee from them on Monday, May 16. Ben Curtis, Associated Press' East Africa photographer and acting bureau chief in Nairobi said this man was "chased across the street and fell down. As he lay motionless on the ground the riot policeman who had pursued him beat him with a stick, breaking it in half, and then continued to kick him half a dozen times, while two other police joined in. Eventually another officer walked up and directed the police to move away, leaving the man lying in the street. ... Later in the afternoon he was located in the Kibera slum of Nairobi -- injured but alive."
An opposition supporter with a head wound walks past riot police, begging them not to beat him. Curtis said, "On Monday we were not fully expecting the ferocity with which police continued to chase fleeing protesters through the streets beating them."
Opposition supporters climb over a fence into the University of Nairobi campus as they flee from clouds of tear gas fired by riot police. "The protests started a couple weeks ago, and have been taking place every Monday outside the offices of the electoral commission." Curtis said.
"It's one thing for such violence to occur in actively ongoing clashes, but another when that level of violence is meted out on people running away or lying on the ground -- as was the case with the man beaten and kicked repeatedly by a riot policeman while collapsed in the street," Curtis said.
"The significance of these protests and the increasing tensions that they are stirring lies not with the immediate demands of the protesters that the electoral commission chairman and board step down. ... Both parties are playing a dangerous game now but the fact we are starting to see such tensions so far in advance of the next election does not bode particularly well for it."
Curtis said, "Police went through the streets and alleys chasing protesters, beating them with sticks and clubs. In a nearby building where both protesters and bystanders had taken refuge, police went into the building flushing them out toward waiting colleagues who beat many with wooden clubs and kicked them as they tried to flee."
An elderly woman caught up in the clashes holds her hands in the air as a riot policeman approaches amid clouds of tear gas.
Riot police charge toward opposition supporters during a protest in Nairobi, Kenya, on Monday, May 9.
A riot policeman fires tear gas toward opposition supporters during a protest May 9. Curtis said, "At last week's protest the trigger was some of the demonstrators starting to pelt the police with rocks, and while I saw some demonstrators similarly armed with rocks on Monday, I cannot say who started it this time."
Police fire tear gas toward opposition supporters as they run away on May 9. "Having covered the previous protests we were expecting it to end in tear gas and rock-throwing, but not necessarily the kind of violence that we witnessed on Monday," Curtis said.
An opposition supporter standing amid clouds of tear gas throws a rock toward riot police during a protest May 9. Curtis said, "Many are hoping that some kind of political resolution of this issue can occur before the protests get further out of hand, but so far there are not many promising indications."