Flying Squad detectives Monday gunned down three suspected gangsters near the rural home of the new Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai in Machakos County.
The incident, which investigators are treating as normal robbery, happened moments after their new police chief was sworn into office, at a ceremony in Nairobi.
The gang of five robbers, who were masquerading as traffic police officers, pitched camp at Mukuyuni area near Masii town on the Machakos-Kitui highway and began flagging down vehicles and extorting money from motorists.
According to police boss Lazarus Tarus, members of the public alerted police after noticing that the “traffic officers” had hijacked a United Nations staff, and handcuffed him, pretending he was under arrest.
“They declined to surrender when they were ambushed by detectives, prompting an exchange of fire” Mr Tarus said.
The police boss said three of the suspects, who were dressed as police officers and who were performing illegal traffic police duties, were gunned down while the other two escaped into the bush, with gunshot wounds.
“We are treating this as normal robbery and our new boss was not a target in any way but when they defied orders to surrender and fired at our officers, they were dealt with accordingly” said the police boss.
The UN official was rescued unhurt as detectives recovered a pistol loaded with several rounds of ammunition, traffic police uniform and a vehicle that the suspects were using.
Mr Tarus said police are hunting for the suspects who escaped.
The new IG took office with a firm pledge to root out bad elements in the police service and fight crime ruthlessly after being sworn in by Chief Justice David Maraga.
President Kenyatta witnessed the signing of the Leadership and Integrity Code and the Accountability Pledge by Mr Mutyambai at State House Nairobi.
Former Inspector-General Joseph Boinnet, who handed over his office to Mr Mutyambai said he was satisfied by the work he did in the police service, chief among them implementing reforms initiated by Mr Kenyatta.
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