A man believed to be a Kenyan undercover police officer is seen aiming a weapon at men lying on the road in the middle of traffic in Nairobi
A man believed to be a Kenyan undercover police officer is seen aiming a weapon at men lying on the road in the middle of traffic in Nairobi

Three police officers are under investigation in Kenya after the alleged daylight execution of suspects on a busy Nairobi street. 

There has been a swift reaction from the Kenyan government after photos of an apparent extrajudicial execution committed by Nairobi police were published in the Daily Nation newspaper.  The photos, taken by a bystander on Wednesday, show policeman apprehending two suspects in the middle of Langata Road - one of Nairobi?s main highways.  

One photo shows the two suspects lying on the ground with guns pointed at their heads by undercover police.  Subsequent photos show the two men dead in nearly the same position in the middle of the road.

Kenya?s Minister of Internal Security, George Saitoti, called the killings criminal and promised full investigations into the matter. "We are amazed by the fact that, indeed the police could have arrested the suspects for interrogation and trial, but instead choose to kill these people in cold blood," he said. "We condemn it and that is the reason why we have directed the commissioner of police in interdicting, immediately, these errant officers."

According to witness accounts published in the Daily Nation, the undercover officers stopped in the middle of traffic and pointed their firearms at the suspects, who were sitting in a vehicle. 

Photo published by the Daily Nation newspaper show
Photo published by the Daily Nation newspaper shows two Kenyan men lying dead on January 19, 2011 moments after they were shot by alleged undercover police officers on a major thoroughfare in Nairobi, 20 Jan 2011
The suspects exited the vehicle and surrendered to the police who then shouted, "Lie down so we can finish you?" in Swahili.  Witnesses said the officers then fired multiple shots from point-blank range, killing the suspects.

The undercover officers left the scene after briefing police officials who arrived later. 

According to the Daily Nation, officials who arrived later contradicted eyewitness reports, saying the men were killed following a chase involving six suspects.  The officials also said the men had engaged police in a shootout before fleeing on foot.

While the motive behind the killings is not yet clear,  Spokesperson Kiraithe said that stress may have played a role in the violence.  A number of Kenyan police officers have been killed in various incidents during the past few weeks.

Extrajudicial killings have been a long-standing issue in Kenya.  In 2009, a special U.N. probe found police killings to be "systematic, widespread and carefully planned."  The report?s author, Philip Alston called for the removal of Kenya?s Commissioner of Police and Attorney General.