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How armed officer had sneaked into Ruto’s meeting days before he killed colleagues

The police constable who killed his colleagues in Kapenguria had sneaked into a meeting attended by Deputy President William Ruto while armed, just 12 days before the deadly assault.

On July 2, Constable Abdihakim Maslah had travelled from the Kapenguria Police Station to Chepareria in West Pokot, where Mr Ruto was addressing a gathering, while holding a rifle, according to an official police report.

The document titled, Court of Inquiry Report into Causes of Shooting by Police Targeting Their Colleagues, however does not give details of the action taken on the officer after he was spotted at Mr Ruto’s meeting.

GUNNED DOWN

On July 14, Maslah killed six of his colleagues, including the Officer Commanding Station, Chief Inspector Vitalis Ochido, and a Recce Squad officer, before he was finally gunned down.

The report says Maslah had expressed intention to resign from the Force but when he was told to attach some documents to his resignation letter, he threw it back at the secretary and walked away and never presented it again.

It says senior officers at the station ought to have investigated why the constable was keen on leaving the Force.

The West Pokot County Police commander Mathew Kuto is quoted saying they had assumed that the officer had changed his mind about resigning.

According to the findings, Constable Maslah did not maintain a close relationship with any of his fellow Muslim colleagues at the station.

He was only friendly to an Administration Policeman in the area and who was later questioned by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) officers regarding their relationship.

ROUGH HANDS

A few months to the police station attack, his colleagues noticed that his hands were rough and cracked, suggesting that he had taken some strenuous training, says the report, which adds that Maslah was very vigilant and would only speak on his mobile phone in Arabic.

The constable, whom the report says lived an expensive lifestyle, had no friends, was hostile to his colleagues and did not want to wear the police badge.

“He did not respect the Kenyan flag and never used to salute his seniors. He always put on the jungle hat and not the police beret with a police badge,” said one of the senior officers interviewed by the investigators.

The County Intelligence Coordinator in West Pokot County said he believed the killer officer was not a genuine policeman.

He said the constable was at one time away from the station for three months last year and yet the station records showed he was on duty.

He came back to the station with a Somali woman who was older than him but who left soon after, when she sensed no one wanted her around the station, says the report.

TACTICAL ADVANTAGE

The attacker had a tactical advantage over his colleagues at the station because he would always sit at the entrance of the report office. There were no emergency entry or exit points since the alternative door had been closed permanently, giving the attacker an opportunity to shoot at officers freely.

The report says the constable always carried his firearm to his house after work hours, which was illegal, but for which he was never punished or cautioned because of the weak control of weapons at the station. It was the same firearm he used to kill his colleagues.

The location of the armoury, near the report office, also made it impossible for unarmed officers to get weapons to repulse the attacker.

Mr Kuto said that even after reinforcements came from Anti-Stock Theft Unit (ASTU) and the GSU camps nearby, officers could not access the report office because the attacker kept firing using AK 47 and G3 rifles, giving the impression that he was not alone.