Panic and fear have gripped residents of Matungu sub-county in Kakamega County following fresh attacks by a gang targeting night guards in market centres.
The latest attack left two dead and two others with serious injuries.
The attacks have triggered panic in the region ahead of the August 9 General Election, with residents urging security teams to intensify patrols and arrest the suspects.
At least two night guards have been murdered in a span of two weeks by the gang that uses a Toyota Probox to carry stolen property.
The gang struck first on May 29 at Outsiders Resort, where they killed a watchman.
Gas cylinders stolen
Two weeks later, on June 4, the gang raided Mashinani fuel station at Ejinja shopping centre and made away with seven gas cylinders after seriously injuring three guards.
Ms Mariam Osundwa, the proprietor of the station, said the gang struck between 2am and 3am.
The guards were Mr Fredrick Sakwa, 45, and Boniface Omondi, 50 and Fredrick Sakwa.
“They left them thinking they were dead but they were rescued and taken to Bungoma County Referral Hospital. However, one of them, Fredrick Sakwa, succumbed while undergoing treatment. [One of the other two] is still in critical condition,” said Ms Osundwa.
Residents have called on the police to intensify patrols and ensure the area is peaceful, especially this campaign period.
“We don’t want to witness what happened in 2019 when Matungu was turned into a killing field for innocent residents by a gang that terrorised villages. It began with the murder of a watchman at a resort joint in Matungu but escalated to the death of several people across the constituency,” said Ms Osundwa.
No one arrested
Matungu sub-county Police Commander Joseph Cheruiyot confirmed the two deaths, saying police had not arrested anyone in connection with the incidents.
He said police had intensified night patrols and were zeroing in on the suspects.
“We have information that the vehicle labelled ‘Kona Mbaya’ was spotted in the two murder [incidents] but its registration number has not been revealed. We are making every effort to trace it,” he said.
He said the gang had switched its activities from the centre of Matungu, where they killed the first watchman, to the western area of the town.
“We are appealing to locals to work with us by volunteering any information that will help us trace this gang,” he said.
“It cannot be easily managed if the local community conceals information regarding this group that is wiping them out. I believe the gang members are people who are conversant with the ground.”
Mr Ismail Mukoya, a resident, said the gang was likely to interfere with the ongoing campaigns by instilling fear and panic among the locals.
“If by the election date members of this gang will not have been arrested, then people will fear waking up early to go to vote. The police should do everything possible to contain this gang as early as possible,” he said.
In 2019, a criminal gang calling itself The 42 Brothers was blamed for unleashing baffling attacks that left over 20 people dead in Matungu within three months.
The killings drew the attention of Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai, who visited the area and imposed stringent measures to contain the violence.
Among them were the transfer of all security officers in the sub-county, deployment of General Service Unit (GSU) officers and setting up of a full-fledged police station at the Matungu headquarters.
Matungu remained quiet after the changes were made, until now.