Seven police officers, including a General Service Unit Recce commando, were killed Thursday after a rogue colleague attacked the Kapenguria Police Station.
The officer was also shot dead, bringing the final toll to eight.
The station commander was among the victims, felled as he led a team of his juniors in a counter-attack against the lone-wolf shooter.
The shooting started at the report desk at around 5.30am, when the rogue officer opened fire at his colleagues.
He then took cover inside the police station after taking control of it, from where he fired shots at any officer who attempted to confront him, causing an hours-long standoff.
The attacker also held hostage prisoners and suspects in the cells, said Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet.
It took the intervention of the elite Recce squad, flown in from Nairobi, to end the standoff.
Initial reports had indicated that the attacker was a suspected Al-Shabaab fighter who had raided the police station to free a man arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of being a terrorist.
The suspect in custody was identified as Omar Eumond, a teacher at Victoria Primary School in Kacheliba, North Pokot Sub-county, in West Pokot County.
Later in the day, police sources changed the narrative, indicating that the gunman was a fellow officer at the same police station.
They identified him as Abdi Hakim Maslah, force number 101777.
Earlier in the day, Mr Boinnet had issued a statement saying the gunman had been subdued by a joint security team.
According to the statement, the attacker had disarmed a policeman and started shooting.
“This morning at about 5.30am at the Kapenguria Police Station within West Pokot County, an individual who had been arrested for [suspected] terror links managed to grab a firearm from a Report Office Officer and shot at several officers who were on duty,” Mr Boinnet had said.
“His attempts to escape were thwarted by the quick arrival of other officers from General Duty, Quick Reaction Team and GSU, who have surrounded the station.”
West Pokot County Commissioner Wilson Wanyaga said five police officers and the gunman were killed in the exchange that brought the entire Kapenguria town, West Pokot County’s headquarters, to a standstill.
“We cannot establish whether or not the attacker was a police officer or a terrorist. You need to confirm this with the Inspector-General of Police,” Mr Wanyanga had said.
The joint rescue deployment from the Quick Reaction Team and Hostage Rescue Team landed at Makutano Primary School and made its way to the station, about three kilometres away, a few minutes past noon.
After a brief strategy meeting, they stormed the station, and soon after two loud blasts were heard at about 1.15pm, followed by a fierce exchange of fire.
GUNS WENT SILENT
Four ambulances were seen making trips into and out of the police station before the guns went silent at around 2pm.
Police sources on the ground confirmed that detainees in the cells were unharmed.
Among those behind bars at the time were students from Chewoyet High School who had been arrested over an arson attack at their school.
Officers said the attacker graduated from police training college last year.
Most recently he had requested to be relieved of his duties but the station commander had declined.
His peers had also reported to the commander that they suspected him of engaging in suspicious activities.
The Nation established that the rogue officer was on duty the night before but retired to the residential quarters at 11pm.
He took an AK-47 rifle that had been assigned to him to his house, woke up early and attended the morning prayers at the mosque before returning to the station.
He was spotted at the front yard removing fuel-tank caps from official cars parked there.
His colleagues suspected he wanted to set the vehicles on fire.
One of his colleagues challenged him before rushing back to the report office as the rogue officer pointed his rifle at him and started firing.
An officer who was manning the report desk was the first to be gunned down, while the station commander was felled as he rushed to the report office after hearing the gunshots.
Rift Valley Regional Co-ordinator Wanyama Musiambo, who led the security operation, said: “Some of our officers were killed and those injured are receiving treatment at Kapenguria County Hospital, and they are in stable condition.”
“I want to assure you that all the individuals who were in cells are safe and unharmed.”
(Editing by Basillioh Mutahi)