A vigilante group raided Kagio Town in Kirinyaga West District in Kenya's Central proviince on Monday night and destroyed property worth thousands of shillings belonging to suspected members of the outlawed Mungiki sect.
Tension mounted as the more than 300 villagers, who have been cracking down on criminals, raided rental rooms and business premises of the suspects, damaging assorted items. Thirty suspects fled when word went round that the villagers were about to raid the town.
Armed with pangas, axes, petrol bombs, bows and arrows, the raiders combed the area and searched the buildings for the sect members.
Police refused to comment on the raid, saying the matter was sensitive.
The 7.30pm raid brought business in the usually busy town to a standstill as traders hurriedly closed their businesses and locked themselves up fearing that they might be mistaken for the suspects and be attacked.
A trader who did not wish to be named said the villagers knew the suspects and headed straight to where they operated businesses or lived. “Although we panicked, they didn’t attack us. They were interested in the criminals,” he said.
The villagers have been on the hunt of the suspected Mungiki members since April 11. They accuse the suspects of unleashing terror on them and stealing their property.
They also accuse the suspects of extorting money from matatu operators, cyclists, traders and planning to introduce a Sh100 illegal levy per household. So far villagers have killed 14 criminals in Kirinyaga alone, and burnt 20 houses.
Three were killed on the first day and eight houses burnt at Muragara Village. They killed four more on the second day.