Inspector General of Police says investigators are approaching the case with an open mind
Lone gunman killed at Deputy President's rural home early Sunday
The siege at the rural home of Deputy President William Ruto in Turbo ended in the wee hours of Sunday morning, 18 hours after a lone attacker staged a daring raid.
After the guns fell silent at 6am, two bodies - that of a General Service Unit (GSU) officer and the attacker - lay cold on the floor.
However, questions lingered about the motive of the Saturday morning attack and how a single person could engage the special forces in a long-drawn battle.
The intruder wore an officer jungle uniform on top of a T-shirt and jeans.
The body of the GSU officer was the first to arrive at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital Mortuary at around 9am in a police Land Cruiser.
Ten minutes later, the body of the attacker was brought in, also in a police vehicle.
The body had multiple bullet wounds around the chest and the hands, according to a mortuary attendant.
He was booked in as an ‘adult African male’.
Residents said they knew the attacker as ‘Omar’ and that he used to sell watches, perfumes, jackets, and shoes in Jua Kali before moving to Turbo five months ago.
The GSU officer, who had a bullet injury on the head, was booked in at the mortuary as Joseph Kabura.
It emerged the the attacker had first held the injured officer hostage, then killed him and took his uniform.
Ruto, in a tweet, alluded to one Allan Rotich being injured and said the attack was meant to sow ‘fear and despondency’.
“Condolences to the family of the gallant soldier, Joseph Makembo, who died in the line of duty and quick recovery to Allan Rotich. Your bravery, courage and care of duty will be honoured. Those whose mission is to create fear, despondency and division will be defeated,” Ruto said.
And speaking in Muranga yesterday, Mr Ruto asked Kenyans not to be distracted “by the schemes and plots of those working to bring down the unity achieved in the country”.
Ruto said the raid at his home in Sugoi “was part of the machinations to frustrate Kenyans as the country was going to the poll”.
“Jana nilipata wageni wabaya kule kwangu na hii ni njia tu ya kusumbua ushirikiano wa hapa nchini (yesterday there were unwanted guests in my home and their motive was to undermine and frustrate the unity that we have nurtured),” said Ruto.
By early evening, no one had come up to identify the attacker.
“Since the bodies were brought here earlier today nobody has come to identify the other man whose name we still do not know. We usually take the records of those who want to identify bodies because they require permission from the administrators, which would have helped us identity him,” said an officer at the mortuary who sought anonymity.
Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet said once the attacker is identified, it would give an indication of his motives.
“We are approaching this issue with an open mind as we try to establish the identity of the intruder and motive on,” Boinnet said when asked if it was a case of terrorism.
The DP’s neigbours were still puzzled how the attacker, described by some local residents as an ordinary clothes and shoe hawker in Jua Kali, could hold the elite Recce Squad and the entire Rift Valley regional security agencies at bay for more than 18 hours.
The officers had to repair the tyres of the armoured personnel vehicle, whose tyres were deflated by the force of the attacker’s bullets.
There was still confusion at the homestead, with some farm workers expressing fears that productivity would be affected, especially in the poultry section. “We have not accessed the poultry farm to feed the birds. We are told there are just a few eggs today since hybrid birds easily get scared and become non-productive if disturbed even by noise,” a worker disclosed.
According to the workers who did not wish to be named, about 150 workers report for duty daily. Most them had no access to the main compound but go through the main gate, which was guarded by GSU officers.
“Officers are used to us and we are not subjected to checks. We do not know how the stranger made his way through the first gate at the pretext of selling clothes. We assemble every morning before a roll call is taken,” said one worker.
A security source said when night fell, the suspected terrorist maintained silence as the officers tried to figure out his hiding place.
“Maybe he wanted the officers to believe he was dead or had escaped,” added the source. An armoured vehicle from Lokichar, the source said, was dispatched and arrived at around 12 am. “At around 4am, the suspect peeped through the window. When he saw the officers, he started shooting,” said the source.
At 5am, the officers used a stun grenade, which disoriented the suspect. It is then that an officer entered the room and gunned him down,” the source revealed.
Scared villagers decided to spend the night in the homes of distant relatives.
Salim Sawe said he saw the attacker minutes after he entered the home of the DP.
“I rushed towards the gate and saw the officer running in my direction, shouting that an intruder had snatched his gun. His head, leg, and arms were bleeding, prompting me to rush back to the house to pick up my bow and arrows,” said the witness.
In Turbo, angry residents frog-marched a man believed to have been linked to the attacker to the chief’s camp for questioning.
[Reporting by Titus Too, Silah Koskei, Michael Ollinga and Boniface Gikandi]