Shops set on fire as Meru Polytechnic students riot
Meru National Polytechnic has been closed indefinitely after students went on the rampage on Monday morning, Principal Geoffrey Rukunja has said.
Several shops were burnt, businesses vandalised and transport paralysed in Makutano, Meru County following the riots.
The students looted shops as they protested after their colleague was killed in the town Sunday night in unclear circumstances.
The students barricaded the Meru-Nanyuki and Meru-Maua roads with bonfires from 8am before burning down shops near where the body was discovered.
Police were overwhelmed as the students looted shops and attacked motorists, paralysing business at the busy Makutano shopping centre.
Meru National Polytechnic students’ union deputy president Kimani Wachira said their colleague was robbed before he was killed.
Mr Wachira said they have reported several cases of muggings and insecurity in the area and accused police of inaction.
“Many students have been attacked near ghetto street and the police have not acted on our reports. The deceased student was walking to school for exams when he was killed. We are now demanding the CCTV footage from a nearby hotel to identify the attackers,” Mr Wachira said.
He said the problem has been persistent, with a motorbike being burnt by students two weeks ago.
The student leader said the assailants normally attack and then hide in the shops which were set ablaze.
Mr Wachira defended the students saying they were not involved in looting shops.
According to former students’ president Jackson Kirimi, they had earlier solved the conflict by engaging the community but it seems the matter had gone out of hand.
“Before I left the college last year, we had managed to contain the insecurity by working with locals. Students were being robbed and attacked at a particular spot in Makutano.
“However, last month the students went to the streets at night to hunt for the suspects. The killing of the students might be a revenge in the longstanding dispute,” Mr Kirimi said.
Several people were arrested during the riots with police officers, backed by residents, engaging the students in running battles.