Police were forced to open fire on Sunday, September 13, after chaos erupted during the annual pilgrimage of Legio Maria Church of Africa in Migori County.
Four people were shot dead while others, including a police officer, were injured. The injured were taken to the Migori County Referral Hospital.
In addition, a car was burnt and other vehicles belonging to police officers were pelted with stones.
The rivalry was between two factions; one from Raphael Adika, an alleged pope of the church and another by Raphael Ochieng supporters, who want him to be the pope.
At the time, Adika and his supporters were on their way to the church’s headquarters which bear the remains of pope Melkio Ondeto but Ochieng’s supporters timed the rival faction and pelted them with stones.
Police officers, who had since arrived at the scene, shot in the air and lobbed teargas in an attempt to disperse the crowd but all was in vain.
The group led by Ochieng indicated that they had been holding prayers on the hill for a number of days before they were disrupted by Adika’s group.
“We were doing our annual pilgrimage and it has been peaceful. Unfortunately, a group we separated with several years ago invaded our prayers,” Cardinal Francis Limo stated.
Ondeto died 27 years ago and since then the church has been marred with wrangles.
This is after two splinter groups were formed, with each group, having a pope, Adika and Ochieng.
Both have been fighting to control the “holy” hill.
Police officers have since increased security patrols at the church headquarters ahead of the annual pilgrimage, to try and avoid the wrangles.