A security operation to flush out criminals in Nyeri after the murder of a chief has caused tension and anxiety among residents.
Senior police bosses have also been moved following the rise in insecurity in the region.
The operation began in Kamakwa and Kamuyu in the outskirts of Nyeri Town with the arrest of five people linked to the murder of Chief Kimiti Nyuguto.
But only three of the suspects were produced in court Wednesday and will remanded for five days to allow police complete investigations.
Kamuyu was home to Kenya's most wanted gangsters Gerald Wambugu Munyeria alias Wanugu and Anthony Ngugi Kanagi alias Wacucu who were killed by police.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i Wednesday visited the family of the slain chief and announced a major security operation in Nyeri to flush out criminal gangs.
The tough talking Dr Matiang’i said the operation would start Wednesday night, warning that it will be “uncomfortable” for the locals.
“You cannot kill our chief and expect to get away with it. We will start a major operation tonight and we will not come smiling. Already five have been arrested and we are coming for the others,” he said.
Dr Matiang’i also gave amnesty to illegal gun holders to surrender them to police stations before the operation begins.
“Take those guns to the police station. If you do not we will come for them and you will not like it,” the CS said.
A heavy police deployment was witnessed in Nyeri Wednesday as the hunt for the gangsters behind the chief’s killing intensified.
An officer from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations told court that James Makara King’ori, Ronald Njuguna Waithaka and Duncan Munyaki Wambui are some of the prime suspects in the murder of Chief Kimiti.
The chief was killed Thursday last week by gunmen who shot him three times in the chest outside his home in Gitathini village.
The DCI office told the court police detectives are still pursuing other suspects in connection to the murder and that investigations into the murder are not yet complete, and therefore the suspects cannot take plea.
After allowing the application, the magistrate fixed the case for mention on August 6, 2018.
On Wednesday, locals asked Dr Matiang’i and the Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet, who accompanied him, to do whatever it takes to flush out the criminals who have been terrorising them.
Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu told the locals to brace themselves for a tough operation.
“You are going to bear with the operation but be prepared to get very uncomfortable. Crime in this area must come to an end by all means,” Mr Wambugu said.
The killing of Chief Kimiti sunk the Kamakwa deeper into the abyss of crime, striking fear among locals.
Although detectives are still probing the killing, the administrator is said to have been targeted for giving away criminals to the police.
His death was apparently meant to be a warning to anybody who dares to expose criminals in the area.
The father of three was shot in a maize plantation near his home a few minute past 6pm.
At the same time, top police bosses will be moved in a major shakeup aimed at curbing crime in the area.
Dr Matiang’i, although coy about the officers to be affected, said that the changes will be effected in the coming days.
The Nation has learnt that Nyeri County Police Boss Jecinta Wesonga will be transferred and replaced by former Kayole OCPD Ali Nuno who is based at the Kenya Police College in Kiganjo.
Although the names of other officers to be moved remain unknown, more senior officers are said to have been moved in the shakeup.
The changes come barely three months after tens of officers were moved over suspicion of colluding with criminal gangs.
Police have consistently been accused of colluding with criminal gangs in the area and collecting proceeds of robberies from gangsters.
A review of some of the recent criminal cases depicts a brutal and fearless gang of thieves.
They are known to strike at will, even in broad daylight.
The robbers sometimes pose as police detectives and even have badges.
At night, the robbers mount roadblocks and man them like police officer as they prey on unsuspecting motorists.
Taxi drivers claim that on several occasions when the robbers have been spotted manning roadblocks and a report made to police, no action is taken.
The gang’s mode of operation mainly involves abducting victims and holding them hostage for hours as they rob them clean.
The robbers do not steal cars or personal belongings and are only interested in money.
The victims say the robbers force them to surrender all their bank cards and their PINs.
They also force victims to reveal their mobile banking details besides forcing them to borrow instant loans using their mobile phones.