At least 21 killed in new Kenya attacks
July 7, 2014, 12:05 am TWN
HINDI, Kenya--At least 21 people have been killed in new attacks in Kenya's Lamu coastal region, the area where some 60 people were massacred last month, Kenyan authorities said Sunday.
A spokesman for Somalia's Shebab rebels claimed that the al-Qaida-linked group's fighters had struck again in Kenya, although police blamed the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), a group that campaigns for independence of the coastal region.
In a separate incident, a Russian tourist was shot dead in the port city of Mombasa further south, which the police blamed on common "thuggery" — explaining the woman had resisted an attempt to steal her camera.
Police said the attacks late on Saturday near Lamu, carried out in the trading post of Hindi and the town of Gamba, left 21 people dead, while the Kenyan Red Cross said it had confirmed 22 deaths.
"We had attacks at night where people were killed and houses destroyed. We have mobilized our officers and we are on the ground," said Robert Kitur, a senior Lamu police official.
Police said unidentified gunmen also torched several houses and attacked Gamba's police station, freeing a suspect held over the attacks last month in the region. One policeman was among the dead, officials said.
"Preliminary investigation shows the attack was carried out by MRC members," Kaindi told a press conference at the police headquarters. "There is also evidence that the attacks are motivated by political and religious issues."
An AFP reporter in Hindi said all the dead in the town were men, apart from a teenage boy, who was reportedly shot as he tried to run away. The attackers also left messages scribbled in English and Swahili on a blackboard taken from a school.
"You invade Muslim country and you want to stay in peace," one message stated.
Resident Elizabeth Opindo said she had actually spoken to the attackers, who torched her home but let her live, saying they did not kill women. She said there were about 10 attackers, speaking a mix of English, Swahili and Somali, all common Kenyan languages.
"They said they were attacking because Muslims' lands were being taken," she told AFP.