The former leader of the outlawed Mungiki sect Maina Njenga survived death by a whisker when gunmen sprayed his vehicle with bullets.
However, four men and a woman in his company died on the spot. Two other men were seriously injured with Mr Njenga suffering gunshot wounds.
One of the four slain men, Dickson Mwangi, was Mr Njenga’s first cousin.
The woman, Grace Wairimu Nyambere, in her 20s, lived in his Kitengela home as the “woman of the house”, according to sources. She moved in after the burial of Mr Njenga’s first wife Virginia Nyakio in 2011. She is said to be the daughter of gospel musician Elizabeth Nyambere.
Yesterday, Mr Njenga’s entourage of two vehicles, a Subaru Forrester and a Premio which carried his security detail, was attacked at Ngirigacha, on the Gilgil-Nyahururu road. Mr Njenga was in the Subaru. The scene of the bloody incident is about 10 kilometres from Nyahururu town.
Mr Njenga’s mission to Nyahururu was not immediately known but close relatives confided to the Sunday Nation that some of his close associates have a project in Nyandarua and Laikipia counties.
Mr Njenga suffered bullet wounds to his left hand and right shoulder when the two vehicles were sprayed with bullets. Witnesses said Ms Wairimu was not shot but was thrown out of the vehicle, which rolled. One of the dead men was driving the Premio.
A shaken Mr Njenga and the two injured men were taken to Nyahururu district hospital and then transferred to a city hospital last night.
The Subaru had 25 bullet marks while the other vehicle had nine. The windows of the vehicles were completely shattered.
A witness at the scene said after the shooting, Mr Njenga walked out of the bullet riddled vehicle into the one that took him to hospital. The other victims had to be helped out.
Nyandarua County Police commander Hamisi Mabeya, who was accompanied by the county CID boss and Nyandarua West district deputy County Commissioner Paul Famba, said it was not clear what transpired. He appealed to anybody who might have witnessed the shooting to help police with information.
Scene of crime police officers collected items from the bodies in a bid to identify the victims. Soon after the shooting, hundreds of curious residents travelled from Nyahururu town to the scene.
The attackers may have chosen the area because it is isolated. On either side of the road are two expansive farms, one belonging to Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and the other a new site for Animal Health Industrial Training Institute farm.
On arrival at the hospital, Mr Njenga and the two survivors , a man and a woman, were taken for x-ray and admitted. The woman appeared to have been shot in the stomach and the man had a broken leg.
Nyandarua Governor Daniel Waithaka visited the scene but declined to talk to the press.
Mr Njenga has in the past renounced Mungiki and is now a pastor who runs his own church in Kitengela. Recent reports have indicated a power struggle between factions of ex-Mungiki adherents and active gang members.