Kenyan MP gunned down in centre of Nairobi

A police officer walks past the blood-stained vehicle of prominent MP George Muchai in Nairobi after he was shot dead along with his two bodyguards and his driver by gunmen on February 7, 2015 (AFP Photo/John Muchucha)

Nairobi (AFP) - A prominent Kenyan MP was shot dead along with two bodyguards and a driver in the centre of the capital Nairobi in the early hours of Saturday, police and medics said.

Detectives said George Muchai, a member of Kenyan's governing Jubilee coalition, was returning home after meeting family members in a restaurant when the execution-style attack by masked men with assault rifles took place close to Nairobi's central business district.

Police sources said they were trying to establish a motive for the attack. Kenya has suffered a wave of violence linked to Islamist militants and Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab militants, but mafia-style attacks linked to business and politics also occur in the east African nation.

"The MP was coming from a family meeting in Westlands and was headed home," a police officer said, adding the MP's car, a four-wheel drive, had slowed down at a roundabout when another car rammed it from the side.

"Masked gunmen emerged and opened fire at them, killing all of them at once. They also stole a briefcase and two pistols from the bodyguards," the officer said.

Central Police chief Paul Wanjama said the car carrying the attackers sped off after the shooting. According to Capital FM radio, the gunmen were masked and the license plate of their vehicle covered up, and the Standard newspaper said the attackers were armed with AK-47 assault rifles.

"Our medics who responded to the early morning cold-blooded murder found no signs of life in all the four," said Fred Majiwa, a spokesman for St John Ambulance.

A senior police officer said the killing looked like an execution-style hit.

"It is something we can't rule out at all. It seems to us like something that was well planned," said the officer, who asked not to be named.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said he was "deeply shocked and saddened" by the murder.

"I expect the police to mobilise all resources to ensure the criminals who murdered Hon. Muchai, his two bodyguards and driver are speedily apprehended and made to pay for their heinous act," the president said in a statement.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga also condemned the killing, but said it was part of a wider pattern of political violence and insecurity in Kenya.

"Our country is bleeding and an atmosphere of fear and hopelessness is spreading from the unresolved murders and deaths," Odinga said. "Our citizens need reassurance that they can go about their daily routines without fear and that the government has the will and ability to provide protection."