Kenya on Friday woke up to the shock of two police formations almost opening fire on each other in Mandera, northern Kenya, after one of their own was locked up over alleged armed robbery.
On Thursday night, under the cover of darkness, about 14 Administration Police (AP) officers stormed Mandera Police Station, the county police headquarters in Mandera town, and freed Constable Richard Githaka Karanja.
Mr Karanja had been arrested in connection with a robbery at a petrol station last week that left a guard dead and at least Ksh700,000 ($7,000) stolen.
The officers, who are attached to the Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU) in Mandera Kapendo Camp, went to the station on foot in full combat gear.
They stormed the station and started firing in the air.
A report at the station shows the armed APs arrived at the station on foot at about 8.30pm (1730GMT).
“The officers started firing in the air and one officer forcefully demanded the key from the cell's sentry while pointing at him a G3 rifle gun,” reads the report.
The officer manning the report desk handed over the key and they opened the male cell and released Mr Karanja.
Mr Karanja was to be arraigned Friday on charges of robbery with violence.
“There were 12 suspects in custody. The other 11 inmates remained in the cell,” states the report.
After the RDU officers had rescued their colleague, they left after warning that they would never allow general duty officers to detain their colleague.
After they freed him, the officers fired several rounds in the air and left on foot towards their camp, which is about five kilometres from the police station.
According to the police report, the incident happened in the full glare of the Officer Commanding Station (OCS) and several other police officers on duty Thursday night.
A report dispatched to Vigilance House in the capital Nairobi indicated that no other prisoner escaped from the cell during the incident and no casualties were reported.
Mr Karanja was arrested and locked up over the robbery after witness had reported seeing at least seven armed men in police uniform at the petrol station.
The top security team in the area is scheduled to hold a crisis meeting Friday morning to discuss the incident.
“We are in a meeting but our chairman will issue a statement later in the day,” said Mr Suleiman Rashid, the county AP Commander when reached for comment.
On Thursday, Mandera County Police commander Bernard Nyakwaka had indicated that they were planning an identification parade for all officers who were on duty when the petrol station was robbed.