NAIROBI -- Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi said today 129 people died in the coup attempt against his pro-Western regime that caused $50 million in damage, the Voice of Kenya government radio reported.
Moi blamed 'junior air force officers' for Sunday's coup attempt that left large portions of the capital in shambles.
Speaking to foreign diplomats summoned to the presidential residence in Nairobi, Moi said most of the 129 people killed were rebels actively involved in the coup. He said few innocent civilians died in the fighting.
Moi told the ambassadors the unspecified number of civilians that were killed were caught up in a cross-fire between government troops and rebels while they took advantage of the fighting to loot shops in the city.
Businessmen estimated damage and looting losses at $50 million.
Moi assured the diplomats that a coup staged by junior air force officers 'would not divert Kenyans from the path they have followed since independence'.
More than 385 civilians appeared in courts throughout Nairobi on charges of looting. The courts heard the cases in a matter of minutes with the standard sentence being 18 months in jail.
The Nairobi Times said Wednesday more than 2,000 air force personnel have been arrested in a sweep of the countryside by loyal government forces.
More airmen were surrendering steadily at police stations all over the country, though the coup leaders appeared to have fled Kenya, one high army source said.
Army units were continuing their search for rebels believed holding out in the rugged forests around Mount Kenya, near the country's main air force base.
Normal daytime life returned to most of the city Wednesday, although the university remained closed, a nighttime curfew was in force and sources said mopping up operations continued in several districts of the capital.
Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta Airport, where hundreds of travelers had been trapped by the coup, reopened. But the curfew forced airlines to reschedule their services.
The English-language Daily Nation newspaper, which had quoted official sources as saying the coup was led by Colonel Mwanthi, commanding officer of the 58th Air Cavalry, Wednesday carried a denial of Mwanthi's alleged role from the chief secretary to the government, Jeremiah Kiereini.
The newspaper said, 'We have now learned that the air cavalry is a Kenya army unit and not an air force one. Those involved in the disturbances were from the Kenya air force base at Embakasi, adjacent to the air cavalry.'