MORE than 50 people have been killed in the Kenyan coastal town
of Mpeketoni, after several attacks by armed militants.
The Somalia-based Islamist group al-Shabab has claimed
responsibility for the massacre, which it said was carried out in
retaliation after Kenyan troops entered Somalia in 2011 to combat
On Sunday, about 20 men entered Mpeketoni and went door to door,
shooting any non-Muslim men they found. Some of the victims were
watching the World Cup in a cinema, or were dragged from a hotel. A
police station was also raided by the militants, who arrived in two
Witnesses described seeing gunmen demand that locals recite
verses from the Qur'an to prove that they were Muslims. If they
were unable to do so, they were immediately shot with assault
Mpeketoni is a short distance from the popular tourist resort of
Lamu Island. An al-Shabab spokesman said on Monday: "To the
tourists visiting Kenya, we say this: Kenya is now officially a war
zone, and as such any tourists visiting the country do so at their
The spokesman said the attack was revenge for the Kenyan
government's "brutal oppression of Muslims in Kenya through
coercion, intimidation, and extrajudicial killings of Muslim
scholars", as well as operations in Somalia.
A second attack took place overnight on Monday, in two villages
close to Mpeketoni. It is reported that 15 people were killed, and
a further 12 women kidnapped by the Islamists. Al-Shabab has
The President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, however, has claimed
that the violence was not planned by al-Shabab, but was instead
caused by ethnic fighting and "local political networks".
The coastal area around Mpeketoni has experienced tribal
conflict before, between the Kikuyus, who are predominantly
Christian, and other mainly Muslim communal groups, such as ethnic
Somalis, or the Oromos. Some opposition politicians have dismissed
the President's claims, and witnesses reported hearing the
militants speak Somali.
President Kenyatta has been charged with crimes against humanity
by the International Criminal Court, after the ethnic violence that
followed the disputed 2007 presidential election, in which about
1300 Kenyans were killed.