Kenya attack: Suspected al-Shabaab militants kill 48 people in coastal town of Mpeketoni

The militants shot men in a hotel, and told women to watch, according to a police commander

At least 48 people were killed in Kenya on Sunday evening, after dozens of suspected Somali gunmen sped into the small coastal town of Mpeketoni in two minibuses, and shot World Cup spectators in a hall, as well as attacking hotels, a bank, and the police station, according to the authorities.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the violence that raged until Monday morning, but Kenyan authorities suspect al-Shabaab – the al-Qa'ida-linked terror group based in neighbouring Somalia – are behind the attack.

Witnesses said that a 30-strong group of militants threw explosives into a police station before entering to steal weapons.

The gunmen then set two hotels on fire, and sprayed bullets into the streets during the incident that started at around 8pm local time, as residents watched Fifa World Cup matches on TV.

A Reuters television reporter in the town saw at least six bodies strewn on roads, as well as ten burnt-out vehicles in the area.

The attack reportedly met little resistance from Kenya’s security apparatus in the town around 30 miles southwest of the tourist resort of Lamu, and about 60 miles from the Somali border.

Kenya’s top commander David Kimaiyo confirmed the death toll on Monday, and said an officer who worked as a driver for a police chief in the town was among the fatalities.

Many Mpeketoni residents fled from the attack into nearby forests, said Kimaiyo, adding no arrests had yet been made in connection with the attack.

“Right now it is still premature to say who is behind the attack until investigations are done, but the initial suspicion is Al Shabaab,” Mwenda Njoka, spokesman of Kenya's internal security ministry, told a Kenyan television channel.

The assault is the worst since last September when al-Shabaab gunmen attacked Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, killing 67 people. At the time, al-Shabaab said they would continue their attacks until Kenya withdraws its troops from Somalia.

But Kenya has said it will not withdraw its troops, who are deployed as part of an African peacekeeping force battling militants.

The attack mirrors an al-Shabaab bombing in Uganda against crowds watching World Cup soccer matches on television in Kampala in 2010, killing 77 people. Uganda also has troops in Somalia.

Warning: Video contains some upsetting images

Read more: We should worry about online religious extremism
How ivory funds the al-Shabaab militants
Al-Shabaab's Somali stadium of death

Somali website Somali Memo said the extremist Islamist group had claimed responsibility.

Earlier in the day, however, al-Shabaab used its radio station in neighbouring Somalia to broadcast denials that it had carried out the attack, sources in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, told the Telegraph.

“The attackers were so many and were all armed with guns. They entered the video hall where we were watching a World Cup match and shot indiscriminately at us,” witness Meshack Kimani told reporters.

“They targeted only men but I was lucky. I escaped by hiding behind the door,” she added.

When the gunmen arrived at the Breeze View Hotel in the town, there to they only pulled men aside, but ordered the women to watch as they killed them, they were copying what Kenyan troops do to Somali men inside Somalia, a police commander said on condition of anonymity.

Some of the casualties had been evacuated to a hospital in Lamu, a tourist resort situated along the long coastline that runs north from Mombasa port to Somalia, Kenya Red Cross told reporters on Monday.

The Kenyan Interior Ministry also confirmed the attack took place, while Kenya's National Disaster Operations Center added that military surveillance planes were launched shortly afterwards.

Following the Westgate Mall massacre, a wave of gunfire and explosive attacks has continued in the east African nation. The US, UK, France, Australia, and Canada have all recently upgraded their terror threat warnings for the country, while US Marines are now stationed on the roof of the US Embassy in the capital, Nairobi.

Nearby Lamu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the country's oldest continually inhabited town and a historic Arab trading port. The region saw a spate of kidnappings of foreign tourists in 2011 that Kenya said was part of its motivation for attacking Somalia. Since those attacks and subsequent terror warnings tourism has dropped off sharply around Lamu.

However, there were no immediate reports of foreign visitors being hurt in Sunday's attack, as Mpeketoni is not a major holiday destination.

Kenya's Tourism Board issued a statement on Monday stressing that visitors to the country are safe, and Lamu is in no way affected by the attack.

Additional reporting by agencies

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty

Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
Designer Oscar de la Renta takes a bow after showing his Spring 2015 collection in September, his last show before his death
fashionThe passing of the legendary designer has left a vacancy: couturier to America’s royalty, says fashion editor Alexander Fury
Life and Style

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind'

Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album