Tear gas fired as crowd seizes Kenya pop star's body to halt hasty COVID funeral

By Frederick Oduor
KISUMU (Reuters) - Hundreds of Kenyans resisted the tear gas and riot police on Friday to kidnap the body of a popular singer.
Mourners and fans of Bernard Obonyo, whose stage name is Abenny Jachiga, raved about the cemetery and prevented the singer from being buried in the city of Kisumu in western Kenya.
The region has a tradition of lavish, well-attended funerals, but suspected COVID-19 infection rules require corpses to be buried with only five relatives present within 24 hours of death.
The police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. This removed the body from the cemetery and brought it to a mortuary.
Obonbyo, 33, died on June 11th. His brother told the Daily Nation in Kenya that the singer suffered from severe chest and abdominal pain, difficulty breathing and vomiting of blood. The family and the authorities have not said whether he has been tested for the novel corona virus.
Obonyo's family is now asking for a week to organize an appropriate funeral for the star.
"As a family, we ask for a week, let the fans plan, let the music industry plan," said George Oningu, the singer's brother-in-law.
"We do this to ensure that there is peace and that Ben is buried in peace."

(Edited by Katharine Houreld and Peter Graff)

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