Although the two attackers only targeted the duo despite being in a group of revellers during the 12.30am incident, other patrons scampered for safety.
Police are investigating the killing of a Member of County Assembly (MCA) and a parliamentary aspirant who were on Saturday morning shot inside a bar in Marigat town, Baringo County, as violence escalated in the region.
Loyamorok MCA Fredrick Cheretei, elected through the United Republican Party and Mr Symon Kitambaa, who had declared his intention to vie for Tiaty parliamentary, seat were killed by the assassins who appeared to have been on a mission to eliminate them at T-Junction Bar and Restaurant.
After the other revellers ran away, the attackers got time to burn the MCA’s car which was parked outside the bar before smashing the windscreen of Mr Kitambaa’s car. They also stole money from the bar’s counter before disappearing into the night.
Following the attack, tension gripped the town as residents feared that there could be a hit gang targeting popular politicians ahead of the August General Election.
The aspirant was a popular engineer in Tiaty and was seeking to trounce local Member of Parliament Asman Kamama who is seeking re-election on Jubilee Party ticket.
He was also the Chairman of National Council for Population and Development and was seen as a front runner to topple Mr Kamama.
According to witnesses, the killers who were hooded and armed with AK-47 rifles shot in one direction. The witnesses said that after breaking the windscreen of Mr Kitambaa’s vehicle, they picked a yellow polythene bag whose contents were not immediately established.
“It is clear that the attackers knew their targets because they did not attack five other people who were with the deceased politicians,” said a worker at the restaurant who did not want to be identified for fear of being targeted. The worker said they were almost closing the restaurant when they heard gunshots.
“We were almost closing when I heard some gun shots at the cottages. I had to run for my life. I jumped over the fence where I saw two people who had guns running towards the cottages,” he said.
The aspirant’s driver, Mr Musa Kisur, said he was with the two at one of the cottages. He said they were planning to attend a burial at Tirioko Ward in Tiaty this weekend.
“We had finished eating and after washing our hands we heard some gunshots and few minutes later two hooded men entered the cottage and shot at the two politicians and left us as we lay under the tables,” said Mr Kisur.
He said that the gunfire lasted for more than half an hour before the attackers stole money from the bar.
“That is when I realised that they had torched the vehicles. I ran to the scene and found that the MCAs vehicle was completely burnt and the other one was almost catching fire. I entered in it through the broken windscreen and drove it away from the fire,” he said.
Speaking to the press in Marigat town, Rift Valley Regional Coordinator Wanyama Musiambo said that the killings appeared well-planned as the killers only targeted the two politicians.
He, however, asked residents to volunteer information on the killings in order to help them with investigations.
“Preliminary investigations reveal that the murder of the two was properly planned and executed. So far no arrests have been made. We however call on the locals to be calm and stop speculations. The residents should also avoid revenge attacks and let us give the police officers ample time to carry out investigations,” said Mr Musiambo.
Baringo Police Commander Peter Ndung’u said that the two killers were hooded and one had a machete and the other was armed with AK-47 rifle.
Mr Ndung’u appealed to the locals that whoever has any information on the incident to give to the police.
“I am also appealing to the locals to remain calm as police officers have been deployed in the area and patrols have also been intensified,” said the police boss.
When the Nation visited the scene, there was blood on the floor and spent cartridges.
Three months ago, the parliamentary aspirant locked horns with Mr Kamama during the election of Jubilee interim officials.
Mr Kitambaa complained that the officials who were conducting the election were taking sides with Mr Kamama, who maintained that the process was free and fair. The election was conducted at the Kenya School of Government, Kabarnet.
In 2015, some people attempted to set ablaze the vehicle of the Baringo County Assembly Speaker William Kamket which was being repaired in Marigat town.
Police on patrol helped put out the fire before it consumed the car.
Two weeks after that, a vehicle belonging to Ripkwo/Kositei MCA Daniel Tuwit was set ablaze outside a hotel in the same town.
It is said that two unknown arsonists who were in a motorcycle were seen near the vehicle before it went up in flames. It was claimed that they lit a jerry can of petrol in the vehicle before escaping.