Police vehicle burnt as accomplices fight to rescue notorious banditry suspect

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The suspect was arrested in Kaben village after locals told police about his whereabouts. [iStockphoto]

A police vehicle was burnt in Elgeyo Marakwet as security personnel and an armed gang that attempted to rescue a notorious banditry suspect engaged in a fierce shootout on Thursday evening.

The gang stormed Liter Police Post in Kerio Valley, Marakwet East, after a man identified as Denis Kemboi, who had escaped from Iten County Referral Hospital on April 11, following a raid at the health facility, was arrested.

During the April raid at Iten Hospital, the suspect, who had a gunshot wound and was being guarded by police officers, was freed after six men armed with AK47 rifles stormed the facility and took him away at night.

Police had reported that Kemboi was wanted for masterminding several banditry attacks in Kerio Valley.

On Thursday evening, police said, Kemboi was arrested in Kaben village at around 7pm after locals tipped them off on his whereabouts.

In the same way, as it happened in April, a gang armed with guns stormed Liter Police Post and launched another rescue mission.

Marakwet East sub-county police commander John Muchiri said the gang torched a police Land Cruiser during the clash.

But police at the post managed to hold the wanted suspect, Muchiri said.

According to locals, the suspect was nabbed by police officers and reservists and arrested at 7pm on Thursday, October 12.

Muchiri said after the suspect had been taken to the police post located on the border of Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot, an armed gang suspected to be his accomplices regrouped and staged a rescue mission.

He said the gang stormed Liter Police station with the intention of aiding the suspect’s escape but were repulsed as they attempted to force entry into the camp.

Police reports said the attack triggered a fierce exchange of fire, which lasted for nearly an hour and was repulsed around 8pm after a reinforcement from Tot Police Station about 12km away arrived.

“The police have been looking for the suspect since the April rescue mission. Fortunately, we have him in our custody now after we thwarted the Thursday evening rescue mission,” Muchiri told the Standard.

He said the torched Land Cruiser was ferrying the first team of responders from Tot Police Station. No casualties were reported.

“The police vehicle, which was burnt by the gang, was ferrying the first responders. They torched it as our officers were repulsing them. Our officers ensured that the suspect did not escape,” he said.

Muchiri further said: “The suspect has been terrorising locals even after escaping from police custody in hospital. We believe that he is the leader of the gang that attempted to rescue him, which aided his escape in April. He is giving the police information.”

Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Wisley Rotich urged the police to arrest all criminals terrorizing locals in the Kerio Valley.

The Governor asked locals to continue calling out criminals wreaking havoc in the area.

“I urge the community to continue identifying and producing all criminals in both communities for us to achieve lasting peace. The Judiciary should also ensure punitive punishment of criminals to deter recurrence. We have made tremendous progress, and we can't allow it to go back,” Rotich said.

He lauded National Police Reservists for joining the police in arresting the banditry suspect and repulsing his accomplices.

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