Thousands of Legio Maria faithful Monday evening scampered for safety as chaos rocked the sect’s pilgrimage at God Kweru in Migori county.
The worshippers who had congregated for the annual commemoration of the church’s founder Melkio Ondeto were forced to flee when a rival group stormed the church’s headquarters with crude weapons.
Five members are feared dead and several others injured but authorities are yet to confirm.
Efforts to reconcile followers of the rival popes, Raphael Adika and Lawrence Ochieng Kalul have hit a snag twice.
The chaos erupted after Adika flanked by armed security officers forced his way to the shrines, which encloses the tomb bearing the remains of Melkio Ondeto, prompting confrontations with the other group.
The church has been rocked by leadership wrangles dating back to 1991, resulting in splinter groups, each with a pope.
Last year Migori county police increased security patrols at the ‘holy ground’ ahead of their annual pilgrimage.