Kajiado,Kenya: A police officer and a civilian were shot dead in a clash between protesters and police over a land dispute in Loitoktok area, Kajiado County.
Another officer and four civilians are nursing gun wounds at Makindu hospital following the Saturday violent clash. The clash was over the Imbirikani Group Ranch that is owned by locals.
Police say they arrested 69 university students who had been ferried there to cause the chaos and they would be arraigned on Monday.
The 10,000 acres of land is at the centre of controversy over claims part of it is being leased to an upcoming cement factory in the area. The injured have bullet wounds, police said adding some of the protesters may have been armed.
Police said a group of youth blocked the Loitoktok-Mombasa Highway road for long on Saturday paralysing operations before they moved in to contain the situation.
Rift Valley police boss Solomon Makau said the group had blocked the road claiming part of the land had been leased out to the said factory without their knowledge and consent.
“It was then that police moved in to restore order but were attacked leading to the clashes. Unfortunately there were casualties,” he said.
A local youth leader Innocent Katoo said they had been informed the land was being sold or leased out by some of their members without their knowledge.
“This prompted us to seek audience with the concerned parties to establish the truth but we were met with resistance and armed police who shot and killed one youth and injured four others. An officer was also killed in the process,” said Katoo.
He said the ranch is embroiled in a battle over the alleged leasing of 3000 acres to a cement investor without the members’ consent.
On their side, police said some of the protesters were ferried to the area to cause the chaos.
Tension remained high in the area until late on Saturday as more police officers were brought there to contain the situation.
Katoo said many innocent youth were arrested in the operation. He said the ranch is owned by about 4,500 members with a management committee.
Kajiado Governor David Nkedienye arrived at the scene and addressed the charged crowd before chaos broke out.
Nkedienye said a meeting has been organised for Thursday to deliberate on the issue as he pleaded with the protesters to move out of the road.