More than 20 killed as gunmen strike in Kenyan coastal towns

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Twenty-two people have been killed in overnight attacks by gunmen in two counties on the Kenyan coast, the Kenya Red Cross said.

The Saturday night attacks took place in the towns of Hindi in Lamu county and Gamba in Tana River, Kenya Red Cross chief Abbas Gulet said. Al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants from Somalia claimed responsibility for the attacks.

According to the Lamu county commissioner, a group of about 15 gunmen raided the Malamandi village of Hindi and started shooting at residents.

The gunmen also attacked Gamba police station, Kenya’s police chief said.

Hindi is about 25 miles north of Mpeketoni, where dozens were killed in an attack last month, while Gamba is about 43 miles north west of Mpeketoni.

Police said 13 people were killed in Hindi, while in Gamba nine others were killed and one person was missing.

The nine victims in Gamba included five inmates, who were killed when the gunmen attacked the police station, said a senior police officer. Three other inmates escaped with the gunmen.

The officer said the gunmen got to the police station by car-jacking a truck and killing its three occupants.

Five police officers were wounded in the attack and one officer was killed, he said.

Kenya has suffered a spate of gun and explosive attacks 
since deploying its troops in October 2011 to fight al-Shabab militants.

Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for an attack last month on the town of Mpeketoni on the Kenyan coast and another attack the following day on a nearby village.

Despite that, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and the interior minister have blamed local political networks for those attacks and said they were planned locally.

Late last month police arrested Lamu Governor Issa Timamy and charged him with murder, forceful eviction of population and terrorism charges in connection to the Mpeketoni attacks.

The attacks come as tensions continued to rise in the country over a planned mass protest by the opposition today to urge the government to convene national talks over topics including security, increasing costs of living, corruption and the disbandment of the electoral authority.

Church leaders have warned today’s planned protest could further split the country along tribal lines.

Previous incidents have included:

September 2011: UK national Judith Tebbutt kidnapped and her husband David were 
killed in a raid on Kiwayu island, north of Lamu. She was released six months later by a pirate 

October 2011: Kenya sends troops into Somalia following Mrs Tebbutt’s kidnapping and cross-border raids by al-Shabab; Al-Shabab warns of revenge attacks

Since then, numerous attacks in Nairobi, Mombasa and north-eastern region of Kenya, inhabited by ethnic Somalis

September 2013: At least 67 people were killed after al-Shabab militants seized Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi

May 2014: UK issues travel advisory, warning of increased risk of terror attack in Nairobi and coastal areas – UK tourists evacuated

June 2014: At least 48 people died in a raid on Mpeketoni.