Property worth millions of shillings has been destroyed and a night watchman hacked to death by arsonists who burnt down Embu town’s Marigiti market.
Following the incident, traders took to the streets in protest on Thursday morning, demanding compensation from Governor Martin Wambora's administration.
The arsonists struck at 3am and forced their way into the market, confronted the guard and bludgeoned him to death.
They then burnt the market and escaped.
As news of the incident spread, traders and residents rushed to the scene and started fighting the fire.
They fought the fire for hours and managed to put it out but nothing was salvaged.
Hotels, shops, clothes, cereals, mattresses and shoes were reduced to ashes.
Some of the traders collapsed when they arrived at the scene and found their properties burnt to ashes and had to be given first aid.
Samuel Kanyi narrated how his rented shop was completely destroyed during the arson attack.
"I'm now counting losses because my shop was burnt down together with the clothes which were inside," he added.
Another trader, Anderson Maina, said he arrived at the market on receiving the report of the arson only to find a huge fire engulfing his hotel.
It could not be immediately established why the arsonists burnt the market which is the busiest in Embu town.
But some traders said they suspected that the arsonists may have been hired by influential people who want to grab the market.
"It is likely grabbers are involved and we are asking the police to get into the bottom of the matter," another trader said.
There was tension in the town with riot police patrolling the streets as they watched over the protestors who were demanding to be addressed by Mr Wambora.
The traders accused Governor Wambora's administration of not being fully prepared to handle disasters.
"We alerted the county government about the incident but it could not respond because its fire engine has broken down," a trader said.
The governor bowed to pressure from the protesting traders and promised them that their demands will be met.
"Once the Embu County Assembly passes our supplementary budget we shall rebuild the market and compensate you," he said as he pleaded with them to end the protest.
REPAIR FIRE ENGINE
Mr Wambora also pledged to have the fire engine repaired to enable faster response to disasters.
Kamiu Sub-Location Assistant Chief Samuel Njagi said the attack was well planned and executed.
"I was at home when I was informed that the market was on fire. On receiving the report, I went to the scene and found the watchman lying dead and the market burning. The market was deliberately burnt but we hope the culprits will be brought to book,” he said.
Embu County Police Commander Daniel Rukanga described the attack as serious.
"The arsonists caused extensive damage to property but we have commenced investigations. Those [who will] be implicated will definitely face the law," he said.