NAIROBI, Kenya Jun 16 – Police on Wednesday shot dead five suspected gangsters who had moments earlier killed a traffic policeman and injured another on the Naivasha-Nairobi highway.
Officers caught up with the gangsters in Ruaka estate, roughly 50 kilometres from the scene of the initial attack where a shootout ensued resulting in the death of four of the thugs and two by-standers. A fifth suspect was shot in Naivasha several hours later.
A 25-year-old caretaker at a five-storey building in Ruaka died in the crossfire.
Police said they had recovered four AK-47 rifles including one that had been snatched by the thugs from the highway traffic police constable who was ambushed less than two kilometres from Naivasha town.
Police said they were investigating reports that two of the slain criminals were prison warders.
Highway Patrol Unit Chief Munga Nyale told Capital News the slain officer was attacked as he and three colleagues pursued a saloon car being driven by the thugs.
“They vehicle failed to stop when it was flagged down and that is when the officers tried to block it. The gangsters opened fire at them. It is so unfortunate because we have lost one officer. Another one is in hospital,” Mr Nyale said.
After killing the officer, the gangsters abandoned their car and sped away in the official police car, a Nissan X trail with a blaring siren and abandoned it at Kinungi area where they hijacked another vehicle, and sped towards Ruaka.
Witnesses told police that one of the thugs who was armed with a pistol was seen running towards the bush.
With information from witnesses, traffic police officers who survived the attack and a motorist who was carjacked, police officers both from both Nairobi and Kiambu were mobilised and mounted impromptu road blocks on major roads.
They sealed off the highway to Nairobi, prompting the robbers to divert towards Ruaka area from Kinungi.
“We confronted them in Ruaka where they were intercepted and were able to kill four of them after a shoot out,” Kiambu divisional Police chief Samuel Mukindia said. The fifth gangster was shot dead in Naivasha at about 1pm.
“These gangsters have also killed two innocent people, they [gangsters] were just shooting aimlessly,” he added.
Those killed include a passenger who was shot in a pick up that was being driven from Ndenderu to Ruaka.
“I saw a vehicle try to overtake us, but before I could give way, I heard a loud blast and thought it was a tyre burst. I panicked and lost control of the vehicle only to see my colleague bleeding and he fell over to me,” the driver of the pickup said. “That is when I realised we had been attacked because bystanders were all running away.”
“When I looked at my colleague, I realised there is little we could do to assist him because his head had been blown off, I am now told the people who attacked us were gangsters who were being pursued by the police,” the driver whose clothes were soaked in blood said.
At Ruaka shopping centre where the gun battle with the gangsters took place, a 25-year-old man was shot while standing at the balcony of Joe’s Complex (JNK), a five-storey building which is unoccupied.
Relatives identified him as John Mwangi, a caretaker of the building who was killed as he watched the shootout from the 4th floor.
“We all heard gunshots and rushed to check, I was on this other side and I suddenly saw him fall down. I didn’t know he had been hit by a bullet but when we went to check, we found him bleeding profusely. He was hit on the head,” a witness who only identified himself as Njoroge said.
The man’s brother Dennis Njogu who positively identified him said “I cannot believe my brother is dead.”
“I was with him a few minutes ago, how can he be lying in a pool of blood like this. Death is so unfair to us. My brother has not committed any crime to die like this,” Njogu said.
“It is so unfortunate… this is an innocent man who has been killed by criminals,” Mr Mukindia said and appealed to the public to help them trace two accomplices of the slain men who escaped.
By Wednesday afternoon, police were still holding onto reports that two of those killed were prison warders after they were found with identification documents but firearms found on them were not from the prisons.
“We have received that information but we have not conclusively established if they are warders, but we are certain that the firearms they had are not ours because we don’t use AK-47s here,” Commissioner of Prisons Isaiah Osugo said in reference to the fact that his officers are issued with G-3rifles.