Tuesday, April 21, 2009



By Moses Njagih and Cyrus Ombati

At least 25 people were last night killed in a violent clash between suspected followers of outlawed Mungiki sect and locals in a village in Karatina district.

Four others are nursing serious wounds in a local hospital following the highly expected incident, which has left locals baffled.

Those killed were allegedly woken up from sleep, dragged from their houses and hacked to death with axes, pangas and machetes.

Witnesses said that a gang of young men, armed with crude weapons roamed the Gathaithi-Kiangumara and Kiaruhiu villages between midnight and 2am where they executed the massacres.

All those killed were men. One of the victims was burned to death when the gang set the house he was sleeping in on fire.

The bodies of those murdered, many whose throats had been slit, were strewn on village paths. Panic-stricken villagers woke to the shocking incident as top security officers arrived in the area.

Central Provincial Police Officer Mr John Mbijjiwe said a number of suspects had been arrested.

A vigilante group has killed 15 suspected members of the outlawed Mungiki sect in the past two weeks in Kirinyaga, a move police say may have provoked the sect members to revenge.

The death toll could rise as police are still combing the village to look for casualties. Tension and emotions ran high in the village, and top security commanders from Nyeri Provincial headquarters led by Mbijjiwe and his CID counterpart Sebastian Ndaru were trying to reassure the villagers.

Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said some of the Mungiki followers were taken to the village in vehicles armed with crude weapons.

"We are yet to identify the number of Mungiki suspects who died and villagers, but the incident is bad," he said.

Kiraithe added police managed to arrest at least 40 suspects. Some of the suspects were arrested at a roadblock on the Kirinyaga-Karatina highway as they headed to the scene of the incident and crude weapons recovered.

The suspects have since confessed they wanted to evict residents of Kirinyaga from Karatina over the recent incident in which the locals lynched Mungiki suspects and torched their houses.

At least 12 people suspected to be followers of the sect have been lynched and their houses burnt in the past two weeks in an operation by villagers.