More details of the foiled Sunday evening robbery attempt at a Migori hotel, where three suspected robbers were killed, have emerged after witnesses recounted the harrowing experience.
The suspects were shot and killed by police following a fire exchange at Allaxis Hotel.
Eyewitnesses told the Nation that officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) gunned down two suspects after they surrendered.
Witnesses claimed that the two suspects were ordered to lie on the ground before they were shot at close range by police officers.
“I heard gunshots coming from the hotel entrance and out of curiosity I rushed to the scene. Officers in plain clothes ordered everyone to keep their heads down before they forced the suspects to prostate,” one of the witnesses said.
He claimed that he saw a police officer in civilian clothes place a gun on the back of the suspect’s head, ordered everyone else to close their eyes and pulled the trigger twice.
“He counted one, two and three then shot him on the head as he lay on the ground," the witness said.
A third suspect succumbed to gunshot wounds as he attempted to escape.
Three more suspects fled on motorcycles and are still being pursued by police.
Migori County DCI boss Njeru Nyaga refuted claims of extrajudicial killings. He said the suspects were shot during a fire exchange.
He said the suspects opened fire on police when they were told to surrender, prompting a fierce exchange that left three dead.
"No one should blame the officers for extrajudicial killings. The three suspects died in a shoot out and one of our officers was injured," Mr Nyaga told the Nation via phone.
On Monday, DCI said on Twitter that the robbers found detectives waiting for them at the hotel, which is located on the Migori-Rongo road.
DCI officers went to the hotel early upon receiving intelligence on the planned robbery. They laid an ambush on the suspected robbers who were on motorcycles.
But Migori police boss Celestino Nyaga said that the robbers defied orders to surrender and instead opened fire at the officers.
“Our detectives laid an ambush and ordered the assailants to surrender but, instead, they opened fire on police who responded by gunning down three men,” he said.
A DCI detective was injured in the shootout and is recuperating at an unidentified hospital in Migori.
One AK-47 rifle loaded with 16 bullets, a torch, a rungu, among other items, were seized.
The Sunday killings sparked criticism from the civil society who accused law enforcement officer of using excessive force.
Migori County Civil Society Organisations Forum (MCSOF) Secretary General Titus Orwa called on police officers to work within the stipulated legal frameworks and stop being 'trigger happy'.
“It is wrong to execute criminals in such an extrajudicial manner. If the suspects had surrendered, why then did the officers have to kill them in cold blood?” asked Mr Orwa.
MCSOF Youth leader Rodgers Owenga called on the Independent Police Oversight Authority (Ipoa) to investigate the killings.
Migori town and its environs have in the recent past been hit by a spate of violence by unknown assailants.
Last month, residents of Oruba estate and Masara decried an upsurge of crime after machete-wielding gangs reigned terror on locals.
Two businessmen were killed at Masara Trading Centre and a woman was hacked to death as she left her house for work in the wee hours.