Kenya 'gang leader' arrested

Nairobi, Kenya - Police arrested a suspected leader of a Kenyan gang accused of a string of shootings and beheadings this year, family members said Wednesday.

Njoroge Kamunya, who is in his mid forties, was arrested on Tuesday at his home in Ongata Rongai, 20 kilometers outside the capital, by ten officers from a special squad formed to combat the gang, known as the 'Mungiki'. Kamunya's cousin, who asked for anonymity for fear of police reprisals, said Kamunya was arrested in the presence of his wife and four children.

The gang is blamed for the deaths of 15 police officers between April and June and 27 civilians this year. Many were beheaded. Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe refused to comment on Kamunya's arrest.

It was not immediately clear what charges police would bring against Kamunya. He has been on the run since April, when police issued an arrest warrant for him and two other men who have since been arrested.

Mungiki was once a quasi-political sect that drew thousands of unemployed youth from the Kikuyu community — Kenya's largest tribe.

Since its formation in the late 1980's, Mungiki — which means multitude in Kikuyu — has drawn its resources from extortion and operated openly. The government outlawed the sect in 2002 after its members beheaded 21 people in a Nairobi slum following a turf war with a rival group called the Taliban, which drew its members from the Luo community.

Kamunya's younger brother, 36-year-old Maina Njenga, was one of the founders of the sect but later publicly denounced it. He was jailed for five years in June for illegal gun possession and selling drugs.

Mungiki members promote traditional Kikuyu practices, including female genital mutilation and praying while facing Mount Kenya, the home of their supreme Deity.

In the past three months, police have cracked down on the gang, resulting in the deaths of at least 112 people.