Seven suspected highway robbers were yesterday shot dead by police in Kibunja along the Nakuru-Eldoret highway.
The suspects were driving in two vehicles - a Toyota Fielder and a Toyota Prado - during the 11am incident.
Molo OCPD Daniel Kamanza claimed the suspects were trailed from Kayole in Nairobi and had planned to rob two long-distance trailers transporting sugar from Nairobi to Eldoret.
“The suspects were stopped by a team of police officers who were keeping track of them but instead, they began shooting. In the process, seven of them were killed,” said Mr Kamanza.
Police said among the dead were three suspects who had been robbing transit cargo from long-distance trucks.
“These are wanted criminals who terrorise traders and steal valuables on our highways,” said Kamanza.
According to the police boss, an AK-47, a pistol, a home-made gun, 12 bullets, a police radio, handcuffs and several mobile phones were recovered after the shooting.
Kamanza said investigations had been launched to arrest three other suspects who escaped.
“It is not clear if those who escaped had injuries but we have launched investigations and expect to arrest more suspects,” he said.
The incident caused a heavy traffic jam along the busy highway that lasted at least two hours as police struggled to control crowds at the scene of the shooting.
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According to area residents, there has been an upsurge in crime along the highway, forcing many businesses to close as early as 7pm.
“We hope this will stop after today’s incident,” said Evans Kigen, a businessman in the area.
According to area administrators, Kibunja Forest, which stands next to the highway, has become a hideout for criminals who carjack motorists and offload stolen goods, which they hide in the thicket.
“This area has become notorious despite several security patrols,” said Hassan Waweru, a resident.