Angry residents have set ablaze four houses and a shop belonging to a businessman after a four-year-old boy was found killed and his body dumped in a river in Kavengero village, Embu County.
The residents protested on Wednesday evening soon after police retrieved the mutilated body of the minor, Brayden Mutwiri, from Thuci River.
Police arrived shortly after the incident, only to find the trail of destruction.
Mbeere North Sub-County Police Commander Kilonzo Kivinda said the residents went violent when the body of the minor, who went missing in December last year under mysterious circumstances, was recovered.
"It is true the mob became violent and destroyed property owned by the trader over the death of the boy but we are investigating the matter," he said, warning the residents against taking the law into their hands.
Accused of killing
Accusing the trader of being responsible for the killing of the innocent boy, the residents first raided his shop, doused it in petrol and lit it, completely destroying the business premises.
They then proceeded to his homestead and burnt down all his buildings and uprooted his Muguka crop as neighbours took off in panic.
Mr Kivinda said the trader has already been arrested for questioning in connection to the death of the boy and told the residents and relatives to be patient.
"We have picked up the trader and he is assisting us with investigations," he said.
The body of the boy, whose tongue was missing, was found by criminal investigations officers trapped in rocks.
Led officers to crime scene
According to the residents, the detectives were led to the crime scene by a Standard Eight pupil who was allegedly used by the prime suspect to lure the victim into the death trap. The pupil has also been seized to shed light into what transpired.
Residents claimed the tongue was removed after the boy was hacked to death and used to perform certain rituals.
Area chief Charles Njeru narrated how the boy mysteriously disappeared from home and that the residents have been searching for him unsuccessfully.
He said the boy was the second child from the area to be retrieved from the river.
"Three months ago, a little girl was also found dead and floating in water," he said.
He suspected that residents could be killing children to settle personal scores.
"Residents should learn to resolve disputes in a legal manner instead of shedding the blood of innocent children," he said.
He said the boy was reportedly playing in in parents' compound when The Standard Eight learner allegedly called him. That was the last time Mutwiri was seen alive.
The body was taken to Siakago Hospital mortuary for post-mortem.
Family members were overwhelmed by emotions as the remains of the boy were being ferried to the mortuary and they had to be consoled by sympathisers.
A resident, Purity Muringo, said she learnt of the demise of the minor with great shock and urged the police to get to the bottom of the matter.
"Parents in the area are living in fear following disappearance of children who are then found killed in a cruel manner," she said.