The police department was quick to exonerate itself from blame over the killing of seven people in Nairobi’s Dagoretti area on Wednesday night.
Their contention was that the dead were members of a terror gang that has caused mayhem, particularly targeting boda boda taxi operators.
Confessions from family members and neighbours demonstrate that the dead were actually taxi operators, who fell victims of false alarm sent to the local Administration Police officers.
It is too early to clearly give a verdict, but the main question that comes to the fore is: How should police respond to distress calls? Quite often, the security officers find themselves on the receiving end when they face hard-nosed and blood-thirsty gangsters.
For this reason, they never want to take any chance when they are informed about of gang attacks. However, there is danger in such reaction, especially when it transpires that a supposed distress call was just but a bluff.
Without apportioning blame, it is imperative that quick and thorough investigations are carried out to establish the circumstances of the shooting and the profiles of the victims.
An underlying social crisis that this episode is likely to expose is the emerging bitter rivalry between taxi and boda boda operators across the country. For now, the urgency is to examine the killings and if APs acted out of procedure, they should be penalised.