Puzzle of 81 suspects arrested in Mtwapa over MRC links
A sudden surge in politically motivated violence and the resurgence of criminal gangs in recent months is raising concerns about security in Kenya, only a month before the August 9 General Election.
On Wednesday, police in Mtwapa, Kilifi County, arrested 81 people linked to Mombasa Republican Council.
Although police say investigations are still ongoing, the 76 men and five women were arrested with witchcraft paraphernalia associated with the dreaded group with roots in the Coast region.
Kilifi South police boss Mohamed Wako said the suspects would be presented in court today (Thursday) for unlawful assembly and intending to commit a felony.
They were found in a house in the Golden Key area of Mtomondoni in Mtwapa.
Police officers acting on tips from the public found the suspects as they took oaths.
"We thank members of the public for being vigilant and sharing information with security agents. Their swift action helped us find them taking oaths,” Mr Wako said.
“We are recording statements from each of them and we are still getting details. We are interrogating them to get the reason behind their assembling and why they were carrying weapons."
Among the items seized were more than 30 machetes, knives and oath paraphernalia.
Police said the suspects' personal details revealed that some of them are from as far away as Kwale County.
"We are grateful for the information from the members of the public. We have with us men and women aged between 20 and 70. I cannot be certain if they are members of the outlawed Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), but we are aware their intentions were not good," Mr Wako added.
He appealed to the public to remain vigilant and know what is going on in their neighbourhoods.
This is not the first time this election campaign season that machetes have been found with police suspecting planned violence.
In mid-June, police in Kisii seized seven machetes in a crackdown on suspects planning to cause chaos at political rallies.
Kisii County Police Commander Francis Kooli said the weapons were found hidden in a toilet at Senator Bar and Restaurant in Mwembe estate, near Kisii town.
"We are holding the proprietor of the bar to shed light on how and why the machetes were hidden in her bar. We were tipped by a member of the public on Saturday about the pangas," said Mr Kooli.