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Police clash with residents, lob teargas at governor

26 March 2014, 15:25 Arap Yego

Bungoma - Angry members of the public in Kamukuywa market in Bungoma County engaged in running battles with police for over six hours on Monday, bringing business in the busy town along the Kitale-Webuye Road to a near halt.

Hundreds of residents barricaded roads leading to the town protesting the death of a middle-aged man, who died on Sunday night after allegedly being beaten by police officers.

The deceased young man, who was a Juakali operator in the market, is said to have been arrested by administration police officers attached to the office of Kamukuywa Assistant County Commissioner who were on patrol.

He was held briefly and released by the officers and went to their home, where he reportedly disclosed to his mother that he had been tortured by the officers. The man, who was said to be bleeding from the mouth, later succumbed to the injuries.

Irate area residents, led by Joseph Mumbwani, a former area Councillor, took to the towns streets with his lifeless body on Monday morning and dumped it outside the Assistant Deputy County Commissioner’s office.

A clash that lasted several hours ensued after the protesters pelted the police and the local administrator’s office with stones, forcing the officers to fire in the air and use teargas canisters to disperse them.  

A woman was shot in the leg in the melee while another young man was shot in the buttock. Both were  rushed to Kimilili sub-District Hospital where they were treated and discharged.

It took the intervention of Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka, who addressed the public in the market to calm them down. Lusaka called for the speedy investigation of what led to the death of the man, and ordered that the officer who was responsible for his death be brought to book.

The governor at the same time called for the transfer of police officers in the area, noting that levels of crime have increased in the region yet the officers were doing nothing to curb the cases.

“I am asking the National Police Service to reshuffle police officers especially those in Kamukuywa as some of them have overstayed their importance. Their work is only to harass innocent residents and illicit drink brewers without curbing crime. They do not respond to distress calls in time,” said Lusaka.

The governor found himself in unfamiliar territory, after police officers fired in the air and lobbed teargas canisters at the crowd he was addressing, outside the assistant deputy county commissioners office, after a section of them threw stones to the officers. 

The clearly agitated Governor addressed the crowd at the Kamukuywa market bus park, where he called for the release of a group of youths who had been arrested during the protests.

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