Police in Kakamega and Vihiga counties have arrested 17 suspects linked to last Sunday’s murder of five night guards in Kilingili market.
Western Region Police Commander Rashid Yakub said several crude weapons and machetes were recovered in the operation that was conducted on Tuesday morning.
“Some of the machetes have blood stains and arrangements are being made to take them for forensic analysis,” said Mr Yakub.
The suspects will be arraigned in court either on Tuesday or Wednesday to be charged with murder.
The incident, which left residents in shock, happened some 50 metres from Kilingili Police Station.
The market is on the border of Vihiga and Kakamega counties.
Locals have complained about police’s laxity to address insecurity in the region. They alleged that they were always referred to Eregi Police Station which is located over 5km away.
Mr Yakub said that all officers in Kilingili - including the Officer Commanding Station, have been transferred and new ones posted.
He assured the residents that patrols had been intensified and further investigations into the killings were in progress.
"We started making changes at the Kilingili Police Station," said Sabatia Deputy County Commissioner Isaiah Tonui.
The station came under sharp criticism following the Sunday killings that are alleged to have been executed by 30 armed gangsters.
Mr Alex Makanga, who lost his brother - John Ondachi, 63, complained that the station he helped build when he served as Ikolomani councillor (between 1984 and 1988) did little to save the guards.
“The station on Vihiga County has not helped us despite being the nearest one. I was among the leaders who raised funds to build it," said Mr Makanga who welcomed the move to transfer the officers. He said that this would boost security in the region.
“Officers at Kilingili Police Station keep referring us to Kakamega yet the nearest station is at Eregi which is over 5km away,” he said.
Locals have linked rivalry between youthful guards and their older counterparts to last Sunday’s attack.
The family of Mr Thomas Minao, a 70-year- old victim said the deceased attempted to seek help at the station during the attack but was allegedly turned away by the police officers who asked him to go to Kakamega.
Others who died are Linus Anyika, 68, Francis Jojo Osayo, 65 and Charles Kalume, 60. Mr John Shiroha, 65 and Mr Boaz Oleta, 65 are being treated at Vihiga County Referral Hospital in Mbale.