Several hurt after police throw tear gas into a bar in Meru

Monday May 13 2019

South Imenti Police Commander William Maronga

South Imenti Police Commander William Maronga who absolved police officers from blame following an incident where revellers were injured after police on patrol threw tear gas in a bar in unclear circumstances on May 11, 2019. PHOTO | DAVID MUCHUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

DAVID MUCHUI
By DAVID MUCHUI
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Police in South Imenti, Meru County are on the spot after throwing tear gas canisters into a bar in Kamachege on Saturday night, leaving at least four people unconscious and others injured.

The incident, which happened at around 10pm, left revellers shaken, forcing some to escape from the locked bar through the roof leading to injuries.

The bar owner was also left counting losses following the commotion.

Some of the victims and witnesses who spoke to journalists said the police officers knocked at the locked door and when those inside failed to open, they threw in three tear gas canisters.

“We were enjoying our drink at around 10.20pm while the doors were closed. Suddenly, tear gas canisters were thrown inside leaving many gasping for breath. One of the canisters hit me on the hand causing injuries. Three people fell unconscious,” Mr John Mwenda, a resident, said.

DRUNK

Ms Maryanne Nkirote, a bartender, said they suspected that the rogue police officers were drunk during their patrol.

“I am yet to understand why police officers can throw tear gas into a small house. Did they want to kill us with tear gas?” she posed.

Mr Munga Gichunge said when the police officers realised the damage caused, they broke into the bar to rescue those who had fainted.

Ms Nkirote said that two people were rushed to hospital at night by the police officers, who tried to silence them.

“After taking them to hospital, the police officers confiscated the treatment records and gave one of the men Sh1,500. They asked him not to utter a word about the incident,” Ms Nkirote claimed.

POLICE BOSS VERSION

But South Imenti Police Commander William Maronga said the police officers used tear gas after they were pelted with stones.

“The police officers were on routine patrol when they met youths who started throwing stones. The officers lobbed tear gas to disperse the rowdy youths. I am not aware of anyone who was injured,” Mr Maronga said.

The police boss warned members of public against attacking police officers, noting that the incident comes not long after the killing of a chief and an OCS in neighbouring Tharaka-Nithi County.

However, locals said the police officers have since apologised over the incident and offered to meet treatment expenses for those injured.

Mr Mwenda said there has been a strained relationship between the police and locals, leading to constant running battles from as early as 8pm.

They now want disciplinary action taken against the errant police officers in order to restore confidence in the police service.

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