World

Kenya police brutality turns beat cops into killers; deaths spread fear and may fan terror

  • In this May 9, 2014 photo, Saida Mohammed Kaburu displays a photograph of her son Mohamed Kaburu, as she speaks to The Associated Press in Nyeri, Kenya. Mohamed Kaburu's body and those of four of his friends were discovered April 17 with bullet holes in their heads deep in a forest near the central Kenyan town of Nyeri. The last time the five were seen was in police custody according to their families. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)

    In this May 9, 2014 photo, Saida Mohammed Kaburu displays a photograph of her son Mohamed Kaburu, as she speaks to The Associated Press in Nyeri, Kenya. Mohamed Kaburu's body and those of four of his friends were discovered April 17 with bullet holes in their heads deep in a forest near the central Kenyan town of Nyeri. The last time the five were seen was in police custody according to their families. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this May 9, 2014 photo, Saida Mohammed Kaburu displays a photograph of her son Mohamed Kaburu, as she speaks to The Associated Press in Nyeri, Kenya. Mohamed Kaburu's body and those of four of his friends were discovered April 17 with bullet holes in their heads deep in a forest near the central Kenyan town of Nyeri. The last time the five were seen was in police custody according to their families. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)

    In this May 9, 2014 photo, Saida Mohammed Kaburu displays a photograph of her son Mohamed Kaburu, as she speaks to The Associated Press in Nyeri, Kenya. Mohamed Kaburu's body and those of four of his friends were discovered April 17 with bullet holes in their heads deep in a forest near the central Kenyan town of Nyeri. The last time the five were seen was in police custody according to their families. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this May 9, 2014 photo, Mohammed Karanja displays a photograph of his son Yusuf Mohamed as he speaks to The Associated Press in Nyeri, Kenya. Yusuf Mohamed's body and those of four of his friends were discovered April 17 with bullet holes in their heads deep in a forest near the central Kenyan town of Nyeri. The last time the five were seen was in police custody according to their families. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)

    In this May 9, 2014 photo, Mohammed Karanja displays a photograph of his son Yusuf Mohamed as he speaks to The Associated Press in Nyeri, Kenya. Yusuf Mohamed's body and those of four of his friends were discovered April 17 with bullet holes in their heads deep in a forest near the central Kenyan town of Nyeri. The last time the five were seen was in police custody according to their families. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)  (The Associated Press)

An Associated Press investigation has found mounting evidence that many ordinary cops in Kenya are killing unarmed terror suspects, shakedown victims and even children — spreading fear, breeding corruption and complicating efforts to deal with terrorism.

Although death squads have long been known to operate in Kenya, more than a dozen interviews with victims, police, lawyers, activists and analysts suggest a big share of the violence is also being carried out by ordinary beat cops. Evidence examined by AP suggests they are almost never punished.

"The broader picture here is one of utter impunity," said Leslie Lefkow, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Africa Division. She said she fears that extrajudicial killings will only worsen.