The gunmen, suspected to be members of Somalia’s al Shabaab Islamist group, also targeted two hotels, a police post and a bank in the town of Mpeketoni, which lies on the Indian Ocean coastline that runs north from Kenya’s main port of Mombasa to the Somali border.
Officials say Sunday’s assault is the worst in Kenya since last September, when al Shabaab gunmen attacked Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall, leaving 67 people dead.
According to Reuters:
Kenya’s interior minister referred to the attackers as “bandits” and there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the assault, the latest in a spate of gun and bomb attacks in recent months that have hurt the struggling tourist industry.
Kenya, which has blamed al Shabaab for previous attacks, had said it would be on alert during the World Cup to ensure public showings of matches were kept safe.
“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,” Meshack Kimani told Reuters by telephone. “They targeted only men but I was lucky. I escaped by hiding behind the door.”
The violent attack has raised concern in other African countries such as Nigeria, a nation currently battling Boko Haram Islamist insurgency, and fear that bars and other venues hosting World Cup screenings could become targets.
Authorities have made no arrests as of yet, but do believe al Shabaab is responsible.
Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku told a news conference the security forces would find the perpetrators, whom he called “bandits” and “criminals,” making no reference to al Shabaab.
In an apparent swipe at political opponents, he said the government was cautioning “political leaders … to desist from destructive politics and ethnic profiling that may be responsible for this heinous act.” He did not elaborate.
“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 for Kenya’s internal security, told a Kenyan television channel.
An investigation is underway.
SOURCE: Reuters | VIDEO SOURCE: News Inc.