At least 48 people were killed when suspected Shebaab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said on Monday.
Witnesses in Mpeketoni said gun battles went on for several hours and reported seeing buildings set on fire.
The town is close to Lamu island, which is a well-known tourist resort.
The attackers targeted several buildings on Sunday, including hotels, a bank and a police station, David Kimaiyo, head of Kenyan police forces, was quoted by AP news agency as saying.
"I can confirm that 14 people were killed in the Mpeketoni attack [last] night," Zipporah Mboroki, Kenyan police spokeswoman, told Reuters news agency by telephone.
"Attackers hijacked a van from Witu town which they used for the attacks. They raided Mpeketoni police station first and opened fire," Hamaton Mwaliko, Mpeketoni area administration police chief, said.
"Some hotels in the town are on fire. We don\’t know how many casualties are there for now. We understand the attackers have already fled but our officers are pursuing them."
Kenya\’s National Disaster Operation Centre said on Twitter
that it suspected the Somalia-based armed group al-Shabab, which has been blamed for previous violence in Kenya, of being behind the latest attack.
There has been no immediate claim of responsibility by any group, including al-Shabab.
Kenya sent troops into Somalia in late 2011, after al-Shabab fighters carried out a series of raids on Kenyan soil.
Al-Shabab, which has fought a seven-year campaign to impose its interpretation of Islamic law inside Somalia, has said it wants to take revenge for Kenya\’s deployment of troops in the Horn of Africa nation.
The US and UK have issued advisories to their nationals to keep away from the Kenyan coast.
Source – Agencies