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Diligent officers’ last moments on duty

On Wednesday morning, four officers based at the Starehe division police headquarters, under the command of Corporal Samuel Kabiru, reported for duty.

They were to patrol the region for the next 24 hours before taking a day off.

Mr Kabiru was with Constables Francis Murage, Samwel Cheptuk (a driver), and Sarah Eregae.

They were in a marked police car when at around 8.30pm along Nairobi’s Murang’a Road, they spotted a white car with two occupants.

The officers intercepted the vehicle and both Mr Murage and Mr Cheptuk (who died) entered the vehicle to escort it to the station as the other police car followed closely.

Mr Murage asked the man sitting next to the driver to move to the back so he could occupy the seat. The occupant went and sat on the back left seat while Mr Cheptuk sat behind the driver, on the right.

The two had no idea that the vehicle was laden with explosives and had only intended to charge the occupants with a traffic offence, driving on the wrong side of the road, said an officer who sought anonymity.

When the car neared the entrance to the police station, it stopped on Ring Road allowing vehicles on adjacent lanes to pass before turning right into the station.

The short wait allowed the patrol car, which had been left behind, to catch up with the suspects’ vehicle.

It was when the car was passing two palm trees that mark the entrance to the police station that it suddenly exploded, killing all the four occupants on the spot. A loud blast rocked the ground as Ms Eregae and Mr Kabiru felt their vehicle being lifted in the air as the doors flew open. Disoriented, the two officers first fled for their lives before slowly returning to the scene a few minutes later.

A mangled wreck of steel, human flesh and blood rested where a gleaming car once stood. The body of the car was blown open and the boot and rear of the car were missing.

Flesh and blood splattered the windscreen of the patrol car and surrounding tarmac. The debris from the explosion spread around the wreckage over a 30 metre radius.

Later on, Constable Murage’s gun, which he had been carrying when he entered the vehicle, could not be found. Only the magazine was found more than 100 metres away.

As other police officers and paramedics ran to the rescue a few minutes later, there was not much to do except collect the flesh and steel.

The body of one of the suspects, the one who was seated on the back left behind Constable Murage and next to Constable Cheptuk, was found strapped with remains of the explosives that had blown up the vehicle.

The sound of sirens grew louder and closer as the reality of what had happened dawned on those around, even as the night grew darker.

One of the killed officers, Mr Murage, 54, a father of two boys, aged four and one year, had recently been transferred to the Pangani Police Station from Elwak.

Colleagues described the two officers as examples of bravery, who should be honoured for giving their lives in the service of their country.