, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 21 – The death toll following a night of violence in Karatina on Monday has now reached 29.
Karatina Medical Superintendent David Ndegwa said the bodies of the victims had been taken to the public mortuary.
“We have so far received 29 bodies. Most of them their have their arms chopped off in an indication that they were trying to fend off their attackers,” Dr Ndegwa told reporters.
The deaths occurred when area residents battled with Mungiki insurgents.
Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe said most of the dead were members of the public. He added that three other people were nursing serious injuries.
Mr Kiraithe told Capital News: “Forty suspects have been arrested and assorted crude weapons including machetes, axes and clubs have been recovered.”
The slaughter, he said, began when the people of Chehe sub-location, Karatina tried to flush out the militiamen.
“Initial investigations indicate the violence erupted when members of the public ganged up to resist a Mungiki move to expel all residents of Kirinyaga from Karatina,” he explained.
There have been rising cases, especially in Kirinyaga, of locals taking up arms and killing Mungiki suspects on the claims of extortion.
On Saturday, more than 300 villagers torched five houses in Kangaita Village at dawn, that were believed to be hideouts for the sect members.
At least 15 suspected Mungiki members were killed in the past two weeks.
But Mr Kiraithe urged residents not to take the law into their own hands but instead report any suspicious characters to the police.
“I would like to appeal to the public to report members of the sect committing crimes to the police instead of using criminal violence to resist them.”
Tension remained high in the area on Tuesday morning.