Kenya detains 1,000 'under-age drinkers' in Nairobi

A police lorry in Nairobi, Kenya, on 8 July 2013 The children were taken in a lorry to court

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More than 1,000 children suspected of under-age drinking were arrested in Kenya's capital Nairobi over the weekend, police say.

Bars and clubs were raided after complaints that they had become crowded with schoolchildren during a three-week teachers' strike.

Most of the children were later released because there were not enough cells to hold them, police said.

Teachers are on a nationwide strike to demand better pay.

The Secretary General of the Kenya National Association of Parents, Musau Ndunda, said it was sad that children spent their time in bars and clubs instead of school.

Start Quote

We have arrested the bar operators although we are yet to get the owners”

End Quote Patrick Oduma Nairobi central police chief

"But it is the government which should be blamed for not being keen to resolve the teachers strike," he said.

"Instead of playing politics, why not pay the teachers and they will go back to class and our children will definitely stream back to school."

'Laughing and shouting'

Nairobi central police chief Patrick Oduma said the raids were carried out to put a stop to young boys converging on "reggae music discotheques".

"To our surprise we found there is a very big number of under-age children [drinking]," he said.

"We have arrested the bar operators although we are yet to get the owners."

Mr Oduma said 116 of the children have been kept in custody.

The rest were released because police cells were full, he added.

The detained children laughed and shouted as they were taken in a police lorry to court, the BBC's Emmanuel Igunza reports from the scene.

Dozens of parents, mainly women, had gathered to hear the fate of their children, he says.

Teachers are demanding a pay increase from a deal with the government that dates back to 1997.

The deal would cost the government $540m (£362m) in increased allowances for teachers and a further $175m to hire new teachers.

The government says it cannot afford to meet the demands.

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