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

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam