Gunmen kill 11 in fresh Kenya coast attack: police

Tuesday June 24 2014

Villagers from Kilelengwani village inside their makeshift tent outside the Witu District Officer's office where they have camped after they deserted their village which was burnt down by unknown raiders. Photo/Gideon Maundu.

At least 11 people have been killed in a new attack on Kenya's coastal region, officials said Tuesday, one week after some 60 people died in twin massacres nearby.

Some were hacked to death with knives, others shot and executed at close quarters, mirroring tactics used in earlier attacks claimed by Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab.

The attack took place overnight in a small village near the town of Witu, on the mainland some 50 kilometres west of the tourist island of Lamu. Lamu County Commissioner Stephen Ikua called it an "unfortunate attack", the third in the area this month.

Five bodies were initially found, Ikua said, but a police source later said that six more bodies were found, taking the toll to 11. Deputy district commissioner Benson Maisori said that some "were killed with knives", while others "were shot, executed at very close range."

Several people were reported to have been wounded in the attack and taken to nearby hospitals for treatment, local councillor Athaman Badi said.

There was no immediate claims of responsibility.


"We have sent our officers to the ground to get more details... they are on the ground pursuing the attackers," Ikua added.

The village is reported to be a mix of Kenyan ethnic groups. Attacks last week on the nearby coastal Mpeketoni district left over 60 people dead.

"The style of the attack is very similar to that at Mpeketoni, it seems like it is the same men," Maisori said.

The flare-up of violence has badly dented Kenya's tourist industry at one of its traditionally busiest times of the year, a key foreign currency earner and massive employer for the country.

READ: Rising insecurity killing tourism

Attacks stoking ethnic tensions

Last week's attacks were claimed by Somalia's Islamist Al-Shabaab insurgents, though President Uhuru Kenyatta blamed "well-planned, orchestrated and politically motivated ethnic violence" carried out by "local political networks".

Kenyatta's accusations have stoked already tense political rivalry between the government and opposition parties, and raised fears of renewed ethnic tension.

After the attacks, Kenyan security forces killed five people they suspected of involvement in the massacres, recovering AK-47 assault rifles as well as ammunition. Three others have also been charged in connection with the killings.

However, Somalia's Shabaab insisted they carried out the massacres. They have staged a string of revenge attacks for Kenya's military role in southern Somalia, including last year's siege of the Westgate shopping mall that left 67 people dead.

Kenyan fighter jets and attack helicopters renewed air strikes on Sunday in southern Somalia targeting Shabaab bases, as part of an offensive by the 22,000-strong UN-backed AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM), who launched in March a fresh bid to wrest remaining towns from the Islamists.

But Shabaab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab, who said Kenyan troops with the AU were also fighting the Islamists on the ground Monday, dismissed as propaganda Kenyan claims over 80 of his fighters had been killed.

Separately, at least 20 people were killed over the weekend in north-eastern Kenya in ethnic clashes, the latest in a series of revenge attacks between rival Somali clans that has killed over 80 people and forced over 75,000 people from their homes since May.