Five people were killed in cold blood in Mt Elgon by suspected members of the outlawed Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF) who attacked two villages on Monday night.
Two elderly men were shot dead and two girls hacked to death by the gun-and-panga-wielding gang in Masaek and Kutere areas of in Kopsiro Division in the troubled Chepyuk Settlement Scheme.
A young boy who sustained serious injuries during the night horror succumbed on Tuesday morning.
Angry residents lynched three suspects at Murwani Village on Tuesday morning as they attempted to flee from the scene of the attack.
Cheptais Deputy County Commissioner Stephen Momanyi said the killers could have been on a revenge mission.
“This region has been in the news for the wrong reasons and we suspect that the former fighters of the Sabaot Land Defence Force are on a revenge mission, targeting people who they suspect might have leaked their names to the security apparatus,” he said.
“We will deal with the killers mercilessly.”
Mr Momanyi said family members of a man who was killed in Masaek last April could have been on a mission to avenge his death.
He said some residents had refused to hand over their illegal guns and they could be using them in the attacks.
“I want to warn people who are still in possession of illegal guns to surrender them to the security agencies before an operation to flush out suspects and forcibly get those illicit weapons is launched. We want people to live in peace, not in fear,” he said.
He called on area residents to identify the people they suspect to be owning illegal firearms.
Two weeks ago, members of the Elgon Sisters, a community-based organisation, condemned the killings in the region.
The group’s chairperson Emily Chepkuto said the killings had caused fear among the locals and investors.
“Let the government address this issue once and for all. It is painful to lose lives through such crude ways,” she said.
SLDF was defeated in 2008 when its ring leader Wycliffe Matakwei was killed by the Kenya Army deployed to the region via ‘Operation Okoa Maisha’.
President Mwai Kibaki launched the operation to wipe out the group that was reigning terror on residents.
Since the group was crushed, former members have been carrying out occasional attacks on residents living in Chepyuk Settlement Scheme.
SLDF took up arms after its members were dissatisfied with land allocation in the scheme.