Nairobi (AFP) – Unknown gunmen attacked the home of Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto on Saturday seriously injuring a policeman, less than two weeks before the country votes in high-stakes polls, two security sources told AFP.
Ruto was not home during the attack. An officer from the elite police General Service Unit (GSU) seriously injured, a security official who was not authorised to speak to the press said.
“There are armed people who staged the attack and have shot the GSU officer and stolen his gun,” the official said.
Security forces are trying to establish if there are still attackers in the deputy president’s “expansive” home near the town of Eldoret, some 312 kilometres (194 miles) northwest of the capital Nairobi, a senior police officer said.
“More security personnel have been deployed and a security operation is ongoing,” the officer said.
The attack occurred despite the round-the-clock presence of guards from the GSU’s top-notch reconnaissance unit.
A spokesman for Ruto declined to comment but the security official said the deputy president had left the house shortly before the attack to attend a rally alongside President Uhuru Kenyatta, his running mate who faces a tight re-election contest on August 8 against longtime opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Ruto’s home sits in Kenya’s western Rift Valley area, the flashpoint for an outbreak of election violence after the disputed 2007 polls that killed 1,100 people and tarnished Kenya’s image as a regional beacon of safety and stability.
According to opinion polls, this year’s election will be close and tensions have been rising.
Odinga has repeatedly claimed the government is scheming to steal the election, while Kenyatta has accused Odinga of trying to delay the polls.
Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch said it had received reports of threats and voter intimidation in Naivasha, a flashpoint town in 2007 and one of the potential hotspots in this year’s election.
In the Rift Valley, hate speech flyers have been circulating and some local residents have already left their homes.
The 2007 bloodshed haunted both Ruto and Kenyatta long after it ended, when the International Criminal Court put both on trial for orchestrating the violence.
Those charges were later dropped, with ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda blaming a relentless campaign of victim intimidation for making a trial impossible.