• Police commander says two cops arrested in connection with two killings as Ipoa opens probe of shootings during protest on Saturday. One woman wounded.
•.Running battles continue in Garissa on Sunday, protesters furious over shootings, CID attempts to arrest murder suspect.
Two police officers were arrested on Sunday in connection with the fatal shooting of two protesters on Saturday in Garissa town where violence continued.
The Independent Policing Oversight Authority has opened investigation into the killing of the protesters and wounding of a woman in Garissa town's Soko ya Ngombe on Saturday.
They were protesting the attempted arrest of a murder suspect by CID plainclothes officers. Police fired in the air to disperse the crowd, causing the casualties. Protests and rioting followed.
Violence continued in Garissa on Sunday as protesters and police fought running battles and shops closed.
Garissa county police commander Alfred On'gego said two officers were being held but did not identify them or give details.
Postmortems were performed on Sunday on shooting victims Aden Abdi Madobe and Muhiyadin Adow Shibin. They were to be buried later on Sunday.
The shootings on Saturday at 1pm sparked more protests. Police engaged in running battles with protesters for most of the afternoon. Some shops were looted in the melee.
Trouble started when plainclothes CID officers tried to arrest the murder suspect who had been on the run for a week.
As police were leading the suspect to their vehicle, a crowd gathered, demanding the man be released.
The police were overwhemed and started shooting in the air to disperse the crowd but people kept surging forward. Two men were found dead. A wounded woman was hospitalised. The suspect escaped.
The crowd then marched five kilometres to the Garissa police station and demanded the arrest of the officers who shot in the air.
Protesters barricaded the busy Kismayo Road and threw stones at motorists and pedestrians as they headed towards the police station.
They hurled stones at the police who dispersed them with teargas. The protesters regroup on Sunday and violence continued.
On Saturday evening, Ipoa released a statement to the media saying it had opened an investigation.
“We have dispatched our rapid investigations team to Garissa county to establish the circumstance that led to the fatal shootings of two people, who were allegedly killed by police officer on a mission to enforce an arrest. The team is already on the ground,” Ipoa chairwoman Anne Makori said.
It added: “Upon conclusion of the investigation, the authority will make appropriate recommendations, including prosecution in the event the officers are indicted for using lethal force inappropriately."
Local leaders led by MP Aden Duale condemned the killings. He called them "brutality of the highest level".
“I want to condemn in the strongest terms possible the brutality that has led to the untimely death of TWO innocent Kenyans, at Soko ya Ngombe in Garissa Town by the Kenya National Police. I ask the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of the national government and the Kenya Police Service to look into this matter urgently and bring to book the trigger-happy cops,” Duale posted on his Facebook page.
He added, “The police officers are known and must be held accountable for their heinous action. We shall not rest until justice is found for those departed souls. My sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the two. May Allah comfort the family during this time of grief."
Human rights defenders led by Muslims for Human Rights' (Muhuri's) Abdishukri Jelle deplored the police’s action, saying the officers are trained on how to handle crowds and the best way to arrest suspects.
“We want to strongly condemn what the police did in its totalility. It is unfortunate that two innocent lives were lost. We will work closely with Ipoa in the investigations to make sure t justice is served to the families of the victims,” Jelle said.
(Edited by V. Graham)