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Police hunt for Mungiki criminals behind attacks

Police are trying to unravel forces behind attacks that have rocked Kitengela since last week.

Already, three people have been killed while four others are still missing as the clash between two rival Mungiki gangs—current and former members—continues unabated.

The groups are hunting each other in the open, with some hiding fearing for their lives.

“We are trying to establish the people behind the attacks but we have so far arrested 12 suspects,” Kajiado County Police Commander Tito Kilonzi said.

The fight, which some Mungiki insiders attribute to control over properties they have acquired, started on May 4.

A section of Mungiki members from Nairobi had joined worshippers at Hope International Church (renamed Worldwide Hope Ministries Church)—which was started by Maina Njenga.

Mr Njenga is the founder of Mungiki but he claims to have renounced the organised criminal gang after converting to Christianity.

The gang attacked some worshippers, blindfolded them and bundled them into a van.

“They took us to a house and tortured us for more than three hours before taking us to a plot in Athi River where we have been erecting structures trying to establish ourselves,” a survivor of the May 4 attack narrated from his hideout in Kitengela.

He said during the torture, three of his colleagues were bludgeoned to death while 13 others were injured. They were treated at the nearby Shalom Hospital and discharged.

In a revenge attack, the group living on the 4,000 acres previously owned by East African Portland spotted their rivals the following day in Kitengela town and attacked them using crude weapons.

They also burnt down the van that had ferried them the previous day.

Mr Kilonzi said the owner of the vehicle went missing after the incident.

“This is what is frustrating our efforts to establish who’s behind these wars,” the police boss said.

Even those who had been injured, he added, are afraid of recording statements with the police.

Last Sunday, he said, a group had assembled at Milimani in Kitengela and started arming themselves as they planned to cause chaos in the church.

“We went and dispersed them but a section of them managed to find their way into the church where they attacked the congregation but they were overpowered. This is how we arrested the 12 suspects,” Mr Kilonzi said.

According to the survivor, who cannot be named for the sake of his security, the gang from Nairobi is giving Mr Njenga conditions.

“They are telling him to either surrender to them some of the properties we acquired together during the Mungiki heydays or share with them offerings collected during church services. If he cannot comply, they are asking him to abandon his faith and lead all of us back to our old ways of extorting money from people,” the source said.

Another group of seven survivors is being housed by a pastor in Athi River, Machakos County. The same gang, he said, had accompanied Mr Njenga to a church crusade he held in Nakuru in the last week of April.

“Members of this gang are always dressed in black suits and pink shirts and what we don’t know is whether Maina (Mr Njenga) is supporting them or not,” the survivor who works in the informal sector in Kitengela said.

However, Mr Njenga on Wednesday dismissed claims by the survivor and critics saying he does not owe anyone money or property.

“Those unleashing terror are simply criminals and their intention is to destabilize the peace we have been enjoying. Let people stop linking me with Mungiki, which is a gone case,” Mr Njenga said.

He accused some politicians of trying to undermine him saying they have become envious of his influence among the youth after mobilizing more than 10,000 of them to proclaim Christianity under his leadership at Hope International Church.