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Four murder suspects arrested in Busia

Some of the items that were recovered from the gang members. [Isaac Mpaka, Standard]

Police in Busia have arrested four suspects linked to the murder of two-night guards at Matayos trading centre on Tuesday.

Busia county police commandant Maxwell Nyaema today morning said the suspects aged between 18 and 26 hail from the Samia area but were arrested in Ugenya, Siaya County.

Nyaema said the four were spotted early in the morning transporting goods on a motorcycle by members of the public who waylaid them.

“The suspects managed to escape but left their phone and assorted goods that fell off the motorbike behind,” said the police boss.

The officers used details written behind the recovered phone to trace the suspects.

“We first arrested two of them who led the police to where their accomplices were hiding,” said Nyaema.

The four are being held at Busia police station awaiting to be arraigned in court.

Their arrests come amid public outcry by residents over an increase in criminal gangs.

Preliminary police reports indicate that three people have been killed in the area over the last three months and several others left with injuries, some life-threatening.

The police have attributed the attacks to the gang they said has been targeting M-Pesa shops, especially near the border county of Kenya and Uganda.

For instance, businessman Sammy Sireka was heading home on Wednesday when he was ambushed by armed thugs who shot him at the entrance of his house in Busia Town.

The attackers fired three bullets that raptured the abdomen of the 26-year-old. The attack happened at 7.30 pm just moments after Sammy had closed his M-Pesa shop.

The attackers also scared away the passersby who had come to rescue the victim by threatening to shoot them. The thugs later boarded a motorbike and escaped.

Doctors at the Busia County Referral Hospital who attended to Sammy said his kidneys had been damaged.

 He'd suffered many other injuries. The victim did not make it.

His distraught father John Sireka, a bishop with a local church, said he was called and informed his son had been shot.

Witnesses said the motorbike used by the thugs who were armed with a pistol and an AK47 assault rifle did not have a number plate.

"They shouldn't have killed him. After taking what he had, including the money, they should have spared his life," an inconsolable Sireka said.

Yet, this was not the only attack to happen in Busia town and its environs. Residents said they are living in fear over raids they attributed to a three-man gang that has been roaming the streets, freely, terrorizing them.

Grace Wambui who owns a shop in Marachi and lives in Bulanda is also a victim of the gang's criminal activities. "People here don't venture outside after 7pm. If I am not out of the shop by 7pm, I don't go home. I would rather sleep in the shop and be safe," said Wambui. 

She added: "It was on April 21 when thugs attacked and robbed me. I suspected they'd been trailing me from my shop before waylaying me outside my gate."

"They demanded money from me and the boda boda operator who was ferrying me home. They demanded that I hand them the phone I use for M-Pesa transactions. The phone had problems and I told them as much. They told me to give them Sh20,000 failures to which they would chop off my head. They said they had cut off the head of another M-Pesa shop operator in Busia town who had tried to resist their demands," said Wambui.

The trader said she had to call a friend who sent the money to a till number that her attackers provided. "They read out the number to my friend and the money was deposited."

Wambui, later that night, called Safaricom to reverse the transaction as alarmed neighbours gathered to hear her ordeal. The neighbours rushed to the shop of the agent where the money had been sent.

"When we reached there, we saw two men who had come to collect the money. They disappeared when we confronted them," said Wambui.

In another incident, the armed men pursued an M-Pesa operator into a mosque and snatched Sh150,000 in an 8.20pm incident.