A village in Mwea, Kirinyaga County went through a night of hell after a criminal gang held it hostage for close to an hour on Sunday.
The encounter left two people dead, a female shopkeeper and her brother-in-law, and two others nursing gunshot wounds.
The attackers have been linked to a notorious gang that has carried out more than six robbers reported in the last three weeks in which three people have been shot and unknown amount of money stolen.
A resident, Johnson Macharia, said that the attackers arrived on boda bodas at 8pm while revellers were watching a football match between Russia and Spain in the ongoing World Cup tournament.
The residents put the number of attackers at five.
“Three men were at the shop while two others were on the road ensuring that none of us came out. None of us could leave the house to help our people,” he said.
They fired twice in the air to scare away residents then walked over to one of the shops where they confronted the owner demanding money.
Mr Matthew Mutuku, a boda boda rider, said that they were still at work when they heard gun shots.
“They were holding her by the neck as if strangling her and asking her to give them money,” he said.
When she resisted they shot her and forced her inside her shop and in the course of the confrontation she was shot again.
“We got very scared and fled to our houses, some into the bushes because the thugs had taken over the centre,” he said.
The thugs also shot the woman’s aide when she came to check what was happening.
Residents said the attackers terrorised their village for about 40 minutes.
“They had taken over the centre and we wondered why the police delayed in responding to distress calls,” said one of the residents.
The village is barely 500m from the Mwea Prison which is heavily guarded and only 3km from an Administration Police station.
“We have experienced so many cases of insecurities in this area but last night’s incident was the worst. They have hit the bars and stolen money but they had not killed anyone,” she said.
Kirinyaga County Commissioner Mohammed Birki said that the police were following crucial leads that will result in the arrest of the criminals.
“We call on residents to give information that will be helpful in our investigations. We want the criminals alive or dead. We will not allow them to terrorise people,” he said after a crisis security meeting.
But he denied claim that police officers did not respond promptly to the locals’ distress calls.