NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 22 – Three suspected men believed to have kidnapped a businessman in Nairobi’s Dandora estate were shot dead by police on Wednesday night as they allegedly went to collect ransom.
The men in their late twenties or early thirties were accosted on Thika Road as they drove in a saloon car near the General Service Unit (GSU) headquarters at about 9 pm.
Police believe they were headed to Juja or Thika town where they were scheduled to meet a family member of the trader for ransom payment.
“Our officers acted on a tip off, we had information that they were part of the kidnappers who were headed to collect money they had been demanding. They must have realized they were being trailed and that is when they opened fire at the police,” said Leonard Omolo, police chief for Kasarani division.
“The fourth suspect fled and officers are looking for him,” he added.
Another senior officer who was involved in the operation told Capital News they were tipped off that the men were part of well-coordinated ring of kidnappers who have been holding the trader since Tuesday night while demanding a ransom of Sh 3 million.
“The initial plan was to trail them to the spot where they were headed to collect part of a ransom they had been demanding, but they sensed danger and attacked the officers who were trailing them, that is how they ended up being killed,” the officer said.
Mr Omolo said detectives had launched an investigation to establish the whereabouts of the rest of the kidnappers who were still holding the trader on Thursday.
The investigation was being coordinated by the Flying Squad and detectives from the Special Crime Prevention Unit (SCPU).
SCPU’s Richard Katola said an investigation had shown the trader was being held “somewhere in Dandora but the exact location was still unknown.”
It was the first time police shot and killed suspected kidnappers, several months after the new trend of crime was introduced in Kenya.
Police have previously arrested suspected kidnappers in a series of security raids conducted both in Nairobi and upcountry.
Some senior police officers were reported to be furious about the killing of the suspects, and advised that at least one could have been detained to help unravel the intrigues in the kidnapping ordeal and even direct them to their hide-out.
And with the killing of the suspects, police went back to the drawing board on Thursday to begin fresh investigation and the search for the abducted trader.