A woman who survived an attack on Monday in which three people were shot dead while transporting miraa to Mandera County has alleged that the assailants were wearing police uniforms.
She also suggested that one of the four passengers in the lorry may have been part of the gang, as he was communicating in a local language throughout the journey and was not harmed as his fellow travellers were butchered.
Kawira Mwenda, who was traveling in the ill-fated lorry, said she saw about 18 attackers, all dressed in police uniforms, when they were signalled to stop on the Rhamu-Elwak road.
But the driver, Patrick Kirimi, 41, declined to stop and knocked down one of the gunmen, killing him on the spot in the incident that occurred at around 6am.
The assailants then opened fire and shot the driver in the chest, causing the vehicle to veer off the road, before it landed in a ditch, where it stalled.
The driver, his co-driver Japhet Mwenda and Ms Kawira’s husband took off on foot, but they were pursued and killed in what Ms Mwenda said appeared to have been a well-coordinated operation.
Gory images shared on the internet show each of the three with gunshots to the head and lying in separate places.
The fifth person in the lorry was quickly picked up by a boda boda operator and the two took off.
Speaking at Maua Methodist Hospital when the bodies of the victims were delivered to their distraught families and friends, Ms Mwenda said she survived the attack when her seat overturned and covered her.
The businesswoman and her husband, who reside in Nanyuki, were returning to Mandera, where they work, after attending the burial of a relative in Kaelo, Igembe North.
She said that when she heard gunshots hitting her colleagues and the vehicle, she thought she would be next.
Set the lorry on fire
At one point, the attackers tried but failed to set the lorry on fire.
“They shut the engine as it was still running. They then opened the diesel tank and fetched some firewood and attempted to torch the vehicle,” she said.
“Luckily, the lorry did not catch fire. I was pinned by my seat and somehow they did not see me. I kept saying silent prayers to God that my life be spared.”
Ms Mwenda said she was relieved when local police arrived at around 9:30am.
“After ensuring that they were police, I shouted that I was inside and I was rescued,” she said.