Tension remained high in Chuka town, Tharaka Nithi County, on Sunday, following the killing of boda boda operators' association chairman Willis Kiraku Mugambi.
Anti-riot police deployed in the town in anticipation of a second day of protests following this killing, which was the second one in weeks.
Drama first ensued in Chuka town on Saturday after a mob barricaded Meru-Nairobi Highway using stones and a casket containing a body. The residents of Nkwego village were demanding the arrest of the killers of resident Daniel Mutembei, whose body was in the coffin.
Mutembei was reportedly murdered last month by five people well known to the residents. The residents, among them Chuka town boda boda operators, demanded the arrest of the killers for the sake of justice for Mutembei.
It was while police dispersed these demonstrators that the association chair was shot dead, a Nation reporter who was at the scene said.
He was shot in the chest at around 7pm, and died at the scene, an event which sparked a night battle between police and boda boda operators. The body remained at the scene for hours.
The standoff caused a huge traffic jam with travelers spending the whole night on the road.
On Sunday morning, hundreds of police officers dressed in anti-riot gear unblocked the highway to allow movement of vehicles and protect commuters against attack.
Nation.Africa learnt that police officers were mobilised from Tharaka Nithi and the neighbouring Meru and Embu counties after receiving intelligence that the boda boda operators were strategising on how to battle police for the second day.
In a statement shared on his social media pages on Saturday evening, Interior Cabinet SecretaryKithure Kindiki said he had dispatched investigators to probe the two killings.
CS Kindiki urged the residents to remain calm, assuring them of thorough investigations and the prosecution of those found culpable of the deaths.
The CS told the families of the deceased and the community to allow investigations that he said would be impartial.
County leaders condemned the murders and asked for thorough investigations and the prosecution of the killers.
They included Governor Muthomi Njuki, Woman Representative Susan Ngugi, Members of Parliament Gitonga Murugara (Tharaka), Patrick Munene (Chuka/Igambang'ombe) and Kareke Mbiuki (Maara), and County Assembly Speaker John Mbabu.
Governor Njuki said: "If only it was a natural death, it would be easy for us to find peace, but the police who are responsible for protecting our lives and property have once more turned against us. One bullet couldn’t have been fired by more than one gun.”
He asked the police to ensure the criminals behind the killings face the law.