Seven suspected gangsters shot and killed at Kibunja trading centre in Molo, Nakuru County, on Wednesday were in police “wanted list”, security officers said.
According to Molo police boss Daniel Kamanza, the seven had committed crimes in Nairobi and Eldoret and were being hunted.
“They are habitual criminals that police have been pursuing for a long time, before they were finally cornered in Nakuru. They were being pursued from Kayole in Nairobi by officers from the Flying Squad unit,” he said.
The seven, who were killed at around 1pm, had, according to police, defied orders to surrender, when they were cornered at Kibunja on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway.
Police engaged them in a fierce exchange of fire and three escaped with gunshot wounds.
The suspects were in two vehicles — a Toyota fielder and a Prado — whose windows were shattered by a hail of bullets during the gun battle.
Mr Kamanza said the suspects had been trailing a truck carrying sugar from Nairobi to Eldoret and that a pistol with four rounds of ammunition, a home-made gun and an AK 47 rifle with six rounds of ammunition were seized.
Police also recovered some documents including an advertising receipt from the Nation Media Group.
The incident follows increased cases of robberies on the Eldoret-Nakuru-Nairobi highway.
Last Sunday, 14 passengers in a Nairobi bound matatu were subjected to a three-hour robbery ordeal in Naivasha on the Nakuru-Nairobi highway.
A five-man gang, two in police uniform, attacked the victims after their vehicle stopped to drop a passenger at Karai, less than three kilometres from Naivasha town.
No suspect has been arrested in connection with the incident.