An angry mob has hacked to death four suspected livestock thieves in Mithuthini village, Kirinyaga County.
Two other accomplices managed to escape the wrath of the mob during the Monday 5am killings.
The six suspects allegedly raided the village at night targeting to steal goats and cows.
The residents, who were keeping vigil, spotted the suspects and challenged them to surrender but they fled into different directions.
It was then that the angry locals cornered four of the suspects, whom they accused of being notorious criminals, and set upon them with axes and machetes, killing them on the spot.
Police arrived shortly after, only to find dismembered bodies scattered in the area and took them to Kerugoya Referral Hospital mortuary.
Mwea East Deputy Police Commander Luka Chebet described the killing of the suspects, who are yet to be identified, as shocking.
“The bodies of the suspects were badly mutilated and we have launched investigations to establish those involved in this heinous act so that we can take appropriate action,” he told journalists at Wang’uru Police Station.
He stressed that it is a criminal offence to kill suspects and that those found culpable will face the law.
Mr Chebet reminded the residents that suspects are supposed to be arrested and handed over to the police for interrogation and prosecution but not killing them.
The residents accused the slain suspects of being part of a well-organised gang that has been stealing their animals at night.
“We have lost a lot of our animals to the gang and we had to tame it,” one of the residents said.
The locals said the animals are a source of their income but thieves have been taking them away for sale to unscrupulous butchers from outside the region.
“We sell the animals to raise school fees for our children and we have to protect them,” another resident added.
The residents narrated how they decided to lay an ambush after constant raids in the village by thieves.
“We spent sleepless night and waited for thieves to strike. We were well prepared and armed. Suddenly we saw them approaching and when they stepped into the village we confronted and told them to surrender but they defied and took off. We gave chase and caught up with some of them,” another resident explained.