Police clash with squatters in Mlolongo over a disputed piece of land. [Peterson Githaiga, Standard]

There was tension in Mlolongo today following a clash between a section of squatters and police over a disputed piece of land.

Dozens of squatters were forced to engage police officers in running battles at Mlolongo phase four estate in an effort to scuttle efforts to subdivide a contested piece of land.

Police officers were forced to shoot in the air to disperse the irate residents and avert the destruction of properties in a commotion that lasted more than three hours.

Trouble started when a private developer claiming to own the land started digging trenches in preparation to erect a perimeter wall.

This provoked more than 50 youths who ambushed him pelting stones.

The residents alleged that Mr Kimani Gitau who is the private developer produced land ownership documents saying he followed the legal process to acquire the land from its original owner.

''We were amased to see this man erect a perimeter fence in our land. The papers he is showing are not valid,” one of the residents said.

The locals blamed the police officers to a person they say wanted to render them homeless.

“Why are the police taking sides and protecting the developer? We have no problem with them but they are even shooting at us. We want to tell them that we shall not relent in protecting our land,” another resident cried out.

But the developer maintained that he used the right channels to acquire the land and time was prime for him to develop.

''I bought this piece of land from the owner many years ago. I have been paying land rates to the Mavoko Municipal council. This are my papers including a tittle deed, what do they want from me,'' said Mr Gitau.

He said he had sought police protection in his effort to develop his land.

Athi River East sub-county police commander Anderson Njagi said any aggrieved party should move to court.

Njagi said police have a duty to protect individuals with land ownership documents.