Four people have been shot dead and more than 30 arrested in a security operation to flush out criminals in Nyeri barely less than a week since it started.
The operation ordered by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i following the murder of a chief a week ago has also led to the recovery of three firearms and several fake pistols from suspected gangsters.
Out of the 30 suspects who have been arrested, police have linked seven of them to the murder of Kamakwa Location Chief Peter Kimiti on July 26.
He was shot three times in the chest outside his home at around 6pm.
Three of the seven suspects linked to the chief’s murder have already appeared in court and police allowed to detain them for further investigations.
The guns that have been recovered are two pistols and a Mark 4 rifle that has been identified to have been used in most robberies in recent months.
Authorities say that most of the suspects were arrested on grounds of theft and handling stolen goods.
Others, according to police records, have been on the wanted list for muggings and robberies and were found in possession of crude weapons like pangas, daggers and metal bars.
Central Regional Commissioner Wilson Njega said the operation is targeting robbery gangs in Nyeri and that it would continue until calm is restored.
He called for calm and cooperation from residents allaying fears of harassment from police during the operation.
“The operation is targeting criminals so unless you are one you have nothing to worry about. Everybody should feel free to move around at any time without fear of intimidation,” the security boss said.
In the most recent incident, police shot dead a suspect, believed to have been behind the killing of Chief Kimiti, in the outskirts of Tetu.
The suspect was caught in his hideout together with his accomplice whom police say managed to escape.
On Friday, police shot dead a suspected robber at Witemere in Majengo slums and recovered a fake pistol and a motorcycle.
According to Nyeri Central Divisional Police boss Muinde Kioko, the slain suspect was part of a three-man mugging gang that had attempted to rob civilians in Nyeri Town.
The other two suspects managed to flee from police in a pursuit that ended in the populous Witemere slums.
“The other two are on the run but we will catch up with them soon. However, we recovered a toy pistol and a motorcycle that they have been using to rob civilians,” Mr Kioko said.
The killing of the suspect came a day after another was gunned down in Majengo near Nyeri Town in yet another security swoop.
Two suspects were arrested at the time and a firearm was also recovered in the bust.
The trio are said to have attempted to rob police officers unaware that they were ununiformed detectives.
Police reports indicate that the detectives were on patrol in the area as part of the ongoing operation to stem crime when the suspects accosted them.
The two slain suspects fell victim to an ongoing operation on gangsters that was ordered by CS Matiang’i as crime spiralled out of control in Nyeri.
The killing of the Kamakwa chief epitomised the surge in crime on the county with Nyeri suburbs being the most affected.
This drew the attention of the Interior Ministry which swung into action to neutralize the situation especially as Nyeri prepared to host the National Music Festivals this week.
Heavy police deployment has been felt since Dr Matiang’i ordered the operation to start and most residents have been opting to go home before dark.
Most traders are having to close down their businesses as early as 7pm to avoid confrontation with police.
The Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU) of the Administration Police have been at the forefront in the operation especially in Kamakwa where they have apparently been given orders to conduct door to door searches if need be.
Undercover Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) officers are also actively involved in the operation and have been conducting patrols in some parts of the town.
However, some of the key robbery suspects have managed to slip away from the police and are said to have fled Nyeri following the security swoop.
Three of the key masterminds of crime are said to have fled to Narok and Mombasa counties where they are being trailed by detectives.