Police are hunting a suspect who put a police post in Marakwet East constituency under siege for several minutes.
The drama unfolded on Monday afternoon after the man was arrested over claims of stealing and threatening to commit suicide at Kaben in Kerio Valley region, on the border of Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot counties.
The 26-year-old man would, after the arrest, allegedly steal two police firearms before taking control of Liter Police Post, thereby causing panic.
Marakwet East Sub-County Police Commander (SCPC) Vincent Kitili said the suspect was taken to the police post at around 12.50pm by National Police Reservists (NPRs), accompanied by his two brothers, over allegations of stealing a steel door at Kaben chief’s office, which is still under construction.
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Mr Kitili said the suspect was handcuffed and put in a cell within the police post, awaiting his transfer to Tot Police Station.
He said the suspect managed to sneak out of the cell and stole two fully-loaded guns in one of the officers houses and started shooting aimlessly, forcing police officers to scamper for safety.
“While in the cell, he managed to uncuff himself and moved out of the cell. By this time, no officer was inside the police post building. He took advantage of the officers’ absence and ransacked one of the houses, accessing two G3 rifles with four magazines fully loaded,” Mr Kitili said.
The SCPC said the police post commander, who was a few metres away, became concerned when he heard a commotion in his house.
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According to Kitili, the post commander who is a police sergeant, moved closer to the house and discovered that someone was ransacking it.
“He (police post commander) rushed towards the building only to realise that things were not in order. He hurriedly locked the main door from outside. The suspect started shooting recklessly from inside, forcing the three officers at the scene to take cover,” he said.
He said reinforcement was sought from a police post in West Pokot, but the officers were reportedly attacked by some gunmen suspected to be the suspect’s accomplices.
“The officers from West Pokot could not cross over as they came under fire and retreated to their camp. This is a clear indication that the criminal had a back-up from his accomplices. This made our officers more frightened,” said Kitili.
Kitili reported that a contingent of General Service Unit (GSU) officers from Tot camp were called in but by the time they arrived, the suspect had fled with one G3 police rifle and unknown number of ammunition. At around 3pm, Kitili said security team comprising regular police, APs and GSU held a strategy meeting before pursuing the suspect.
“After consultations, a detailed search was conducted inside the police post building where one weapon and a magazine with one round of ammunition was recovered from the ceiling,” he said.
He added: “After engaging some friendly sources, a tactical police operation was conducted.”
He said after realising that the security officers were in hot pursuit, the man dumped the weapon in an abandoned structure (above) at Kaben.
“Some residents who spotted the culprit hide the gun shared informed security personnel combing the area, leading to the recovery of the stolen weapon and magazines,” said Kitili.
No one was injured during the siege.
Kitili said police are still pursuing the suspect who is believed to be hiding in thickets along River Kerio.
He described the suspect as a notorious thief.
Kaben location Chief Joseph Lokanda confirmed the suspect had stolen a door for his office that is still under construction.