Three suspected robbers were Saturday shot dead following a five-hour siege on a residential apartment at Kenol trading centre in Murang’a county.
During the shootout that brought business at the Kenol trading centre to a standstill, two firearms belonging to the Kenya Police Service – a Ceska pistol and an AK-47 rifle – and seven rounds of ammunition were recovered.
The pistol is believed to have been one of two that were stolen from two police officers who were shot dead in Nairobi’s sprawling Kayole estate after identification documents from one of the slain officers were found with the suspects.
Among the documents found was a letter of appointment of one of the officers.
The AK-47, according to police, was the same one that was stolen from the two officers who were shot dead in Kibichoi in Kiambu County earlier.
Police said the robbers had been on their watch list for several weeks and it was not until Saturday that they cornered them hiding in a six storey building at Kenol suburbs at around 10 am.
Police had been trailing them since the shooting of the police officers.
“When they spotted the officers approaching, they opened fire from the top floor. This prevented the officers from accessing the building,” Murang’a County Commander Naomi Ichami said.
A shootout ensued and went on for hours as the officers sought support from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) officers.
More officers from the Flying Squad based in Murang’a were deployed to the area at around midday but could also not access the building as the criminals held a family hostage in one of the rooms.
“It took us a very long time (to fell them) since they had held a young family of a father, mother and their young child hostage and were using it as a human shield, making it difficult for us to shoot them dead,” said the police commander.
It was not until five hours later that officers from the highly trained General Service Unit’s Recce Squad from Ruaraka in Nairobi were dispatched to end the siege that had proved difficult for more than 70 officers who had surrounded the building.
Scared residents watched from afar, occasionally running for cover, as the gunfire exchange intensified.
Barely 30 minutes after the Recce Squad officers arrived, the siege came to a halt with the three men being shot dead.
The shaken family, a man his wife and a toddler, who had been held hostage, were rescued from the robbers.
The County Commander said the family would be taken through counselling as they might have suffered shock from the incident.
“The family is safe but they will be taken through counselling. They are quite shaken,” she said.
Initial findings suggest the gang had been using the building as its hideout and armoury, taking advantage of the elevated floor to spot any officers approaching.
Other suspects linked to the three, according to police, are still being trailed for the killing of the officers.
“We know there other criminals out there and we are coming for you,” said the police boss.
Police claim the suspects, aged between 18 and 25 years, were also linked to a series of armed robberies in Kiambu County.