Friday, October 19, 2012

Police arrest suspect amid fears of Mungiki revival

Police officers protect a suspected Mungiki sect member (left in a blue t-shirt) from motorbike riders who were baying for his blood at Kwa Mwega junction along the Sagana-Karatina highway in Kirinyaga County. Four motorbikes were torched by suspected Mungiki members leading to the confrontation. Michuki Ngamau / KNA

Police officers protect a suspected Mungiki sect member (left in a blue t-shirt) from motorbike riders who were baying for his blood at Kwa Mwega junction along the Sagana-Karatina highway in Kirinyaga County. Photo|FILE  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By GEORGE MUNENE [email protected]

A suspected member of the Mungiki sect was on Friday arrested following skirmishes which left five motor cycles torched in Kibirigwi village, Kirinyaga West district.

He was picked up soon after a Thursday afternoon fight between the sect members and a vigilante group, commonly known as Kenda Kenda.

The suspect is being interrogated at Baricho police station in Ndia division and will appear in court to face charges of malicious damage to property.

Area head of police Mr Patrick Oduma confirmed the arrest and warned that lawlessness not be tolerated in the area.

“Any criminal elements would be dealt with in accordance with the law,” he said.

County commissioner, Mr Joseph Keter said security had been beefed up in the area to ensure no more chaos.

He said the officers had strict instructions to carry out day and night patrols and seize anyone plotting to disrupt peace.

Mr Keter told the vigilantes and the sect members that the government was alert and they would be treated as criminals should they engage in acts of lawlessness.

On Thursday, the vigilantes and sect adherents clashed forcing villagers to flee their homes fearing possible attack.

Chaos started when the vigilantes raided a house of a sect member and set ablaze property worth thousands of shillings.

The sect member who managed to escape the mob’s wrath sought help from his colleagues from the neighbouring Karatina area.

Armed with machetes, iron bars and other weapons, the sect members fought with the vigilantes and burnt their motorcycles in revenge.

It took an intervention of the anti-riot police to tame the fighting groups who disrupted normal business for the better part of the afternoon.

Police repeatedly fired in the air, sending the rival groups fleeing in different directions.

Moments later, the rivals regrouped and started challenging each other to a physical confrontation but police managed to chase them away.

The vigilantes accused the sect members of extortion and being involved in criminal activities at bus termini.

They also said the sect members, who went underground in 2009, of planning a come back.

“We kicked out the sect members from our district when they started raping women and exploiting villagers and now they want to return. They would not be allowed to set foot here,” one of the vigilantes said.

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