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Residents worried over alarming violent crime

By Lydiah Nyawira | Published Wed, January 24th 2018 at 00:00, Updated January 23rd 2018 at 21:40 GMT +3
Wilson Kamami and his wife Faith next to their car in which they were kidnapped from their home in Gitero village, Nyeri County. [Lydia Nyawira, Standard]

Residents are living in fear due to frequent attacks by criminals.

Over the past three weeks, cases of carjacking and kidnap have increased in estates around Nyeri Town.

Residents have blamed the attacks on a gang of five armed men, said to be aged between 20 and 30.

The gang has been targeting residents when they return home from work. They kidnap them and demand cash before releasing their victims.

At least five families have so far been attacked by the gang that is usually armed with AK 47 rifles, pistols and other crude weapons.

The latest victim was Wilson Kamami and his wife Faith. They were kidnapped from their home on Monday night and held hostage for hours before their dramatic rescue by the police.

On the fateful day, Faith arrived home around 6.30pm. She drove into her compound at Gitero Village and was about to close the gate when two men walked in. One hit her on the shoulder with the gun butt.

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“I think they had been waiting for me to arrive. They wore masks. I screamed for help and the other one struck me in the face and told me to keep quiet. I fell of the ground,” she says.

Kamami came out to rescue his wife when he heard commotion and her screams. That is when he too was attacked. The criminals panicked when the car alarm went off, bundled the couple into their car and sped off.

“They demanded our ATM cards and PIN numbers or they kill us. We pleaded with them not to harm us. I told them I had Sh18,000 in my bank account hoping they would release us,” said faith.

They gunmen withdrew all the money but demanded more. They asked Kamami and his wife to call friends and ask them to send them money through their mobile phones.

“Our friends realised we were being held hostage. They went to the police station and reported the matter. Area chief also alerted neighbours when he learnt about the matter. They all started tracking our captors using our phones,” Kamami said.

The criminals took them into a forest in Tetu Constituency another they were joined by three more criminals who came in riding on a motorcycle.

“Only one of the gang members was armed. They had initially demanded Sh1 million but our friends could only raise Sh50,000. They kept on demanding for more money. This helped us buy time until the police rescued us around 10.10pm,” Faith said.

Just last week, robbers raided a women’s table banking group meeting, shot one person dead and stole Sh200,000.

Witnesses said the four-man gang was also riding on a motorbike. They were armed with an AK 47 rifle when they stormed the venue and ordered everybody to lie down.

There are reports that two children and a woman have been assaulted sexually by members of a gang of three that targets posh residential areas.

Just last week, a local businessman was carjacked before the criminals snatched his Honda CRV. They later abandoned the car at Kamakwa Estate.

Nyeri Town OCPD Muinde Kioko said they were tracking down the criminals involved in the latest incident who he said escaped with injuries after a gun battle with his officers.

“We are appealing to the public to give us information that can help us arrest these criminals. Meanwhile, we are working hard to improve security in the town and we need your support to do this,” Kioko said.

Other than guns, the criminals are also said to be armed with axes. They rob their victims and hold some hostage until ransom is paid.

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