Kenyan police fought hundreds of protesters in trouble spots across the country on Wednesday, killing two as the opposition defied a ban on rallies against President Mwai Kibaki's disputed re-election.
In the western towns of Kisumu and Eldoret, in the capital Nairobi and on the coast, security forces clashed with youths, some of whom set up roadblocks and burnt tires.
Police in Kisumu, an opposition stronghold, fired in the air and used teargas and batons to disperse a 1,000-strong crowd. Two men were shot dead, witnesses said. A Reuters cameraman saw a corpse in the street, with bullet wounds in the back and side.
We are receiving more gunshot victims, said a doctor at a Kisumu hospital who asked not be named.
The violence is still raging, he told Reuters as a man on a stretcher with a bullet wound in his chest gasped in pain.
More than 600 people have died and 250,000 been left homeless by the turmoil since Kibaki was sworn in following a December 27 ballot that the leader of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Raila Odinga, says was rigged.
In Nairobi, police chased protesters through the central business district, firing teargas and live rounds in the air.
Three youths were shot in the back of the leg as they tried to run from officers in the city's sprawling Kibera slum, one of Africa's biggest, a hospital administrator said.
It was so crowded, a very narrow place. I was trying to escape and I got a bullet in my leg, one of the three, 18-year-old student Oscar Junior, said from his hospital bed.
Deep in Kibera's muddy alleys, women and children coughed and spluttered as police fired teargas to drive back crowds.
ODM leaders tried to lead some demonstrators to Nairobi's central Uhuru (Freedom) Park -- but also faced teargas.
We are determined to continue with the fight, one of Odinga's top allies, William Ruto, told reporters. We will not allow Kibaki to make this country a dictatorship.
Police also dispersed several hundred protesters in Eldoret, in the Rift Valley area worst hit by violence, while officers in the coastal resort of Mombasa battled smaller crowds.
Kenya's crisis has dented its democratic credentials, angered donors, scared off tourists and hurt one of Africa's most promising economies.
Police have banned three days of protests called by the ODM. Shopkeepers boarded windows, traffic came to a standstill in parts of Nairobi, and many Kenyans stayed at home.
Kibaki, 76, has solidified his position by naming key ministers and calling parliament. But the opposition got a boost late on Tuesday by winning the post of speaker in the assembly.
Odinga, 63, a former minister in Kibaki's cabinet and one-time political prisoner, may use that leverage to paralyze government business.
ODM has the most legislators of any party, but not enough to win a no-confidence vote unless pro-Kibaki parties join it.
Expressing grave concern over the situation on Wednesday, 13 nations including the United States threatened to cut aid if the government's commitment to good governance, democracy, the rule of law and human rights weakens.
European Union lawmakers said their bloc should freeze all aid until the crisis was resolved, and criticized the EU executive for handing Kenya $60 million in aid just a day after the poll.
In a Reuters interview, Kenya's Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula said the country needed to undertake electoral reforms to avoid a repeat of the current crisis. And he urged the ODM to take their battle off the streets and into parliament.
We expect the strong opposition we have now in parliament to provide critical, effective oversight of the government, to audit government in every way, he said. What we are left with now is to find ways and means of responsibly working together.