Tag Archives: Mpeketoni

Attacks Continues in Kenya; Reconciliation Talks Begin in Brazzaville

Posted on in Central Africa Republic, Kenya title_rule

Armed men on a motorbike killed at least four people late Sunday in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa in an attack that left another eight people wounded.

According to Mombasa’s chief of police Robert Kitur, the attack occurred at 8:30 PM (1730 GMT) when gunmen on a motorbike shot and killed four people and injured a number others in the area of Soweto, adding that the identity of the killers remains unknown.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the shooting however on the ground sources have reported that the gunmen also handed out leaflets stating that the attack was in retribution for last month’s violence in Mpeketoni, a town located 300 km (185 miles) north of Mombasa. In June, more than sixty people were killed in two days of violence. Despite al-Shabaab claiming responsibility for that attack, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta blamed “local political” networks.

In recent months, Mombasa has been the scene of worsening unrest, with a string of shootings and bombings blamed on Somalia’s al-Shabaab militants or local sympathizers. The al-Qaeda-linked group has indicated that attacks carried out on Kenyan soil by al-Shabaab militants are in retaliation for Kenya’s on going military intervention in Somalia.

The attack in Mombasa comes just two days after another incident occurred on Kenya’s coast. On Friday night, seven people were killed when militants targeted a bus near the Kenyan holiday island of Lamu. Two police officers were amongst those killed. Responsibility for that attack was claimed by al-Shabaab, with the militant’s spokesman stating that the group was “ready to act or attack anywhere necessary within Kenya.”

Reconciliation Talks Begin in Brazzaville

Meanwhile the key players in the Central African Republic conflict launched new talks on Monday in neighbouring Congo. The talks are aimed at ending more than a year of sectarian bloodshed.

Congo’s President Deni Sassou Nguesso chairs the three-day forum, which will focus on reconciliation and political dialogue. Backed by a contact group, that will bring together some thirty countries and organizations, the latest talks aim to produce an accord by Wednesday that will effectively end the violence, disarm the fighters and set up a new framework for political transition. According to sources, this accord will eventually pave the way for a much-needed national reconciliation council that will take place in October in the CAR’s capital city Bangui.

Although some 170 officials from the CAR are expected to participate in these talks, including members of transitional President Catherine Samba Panza’s government, lawmakers, envoys from armed groups, political parties and civil societie, several political and religious leaders in the CAR have boycotted the talks, calling them to be held at home as the issue concerns the CAR and not the entire region. The lack of full representative envoys, coupled with the short time allocated for the talks, could hamper their chance of success. Previous peace summits held in Chad and Gabon have produced minimal lasting results.

The CAR has been in crisis since the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in March 2013. Months of atrocities carried out by rebels have sparked reprisal attacks by Christian vigilantes, with hundreds killed and thousands displaced. Despite French peacekeepers intervening in the former colony in December last year, along with a multinational force raised by the African Union, clashes between the rebels and vigilante groups have continued, with fears that the violence may result in a Rwanda-style genocide.

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At Least 50 Killed in Latest Attack in Kenya

Posted on in Kenya, Somalia title_rule

In what appears to be a clear sign that al-Shabaab’s recent statement of moving the war to Kenya is now becoming a reality, at least fifty people were killed on Sunday after unidentified gunmen attacked hotels and a police station in a Kenyan coastal town. Sunday’s attack is the deadliest incident to occur in Kenya since last year’s Westgate shopping centre siege.

Late Sunday, around 50-heavily armed gunmen attacked a busy coastal town, opening fire from two minibuses. Witnesses in the town of Mpeketoni, which is located on the mainland near Lamu island, a well-known tourist resort, reported Monday that gun battles, which began around 8:00 PM (1700 GMT), lasted for several hours on Sunday, while several buildings were set on fire. Witnesses have reported that a police station, a bank and two hotels were attacked, however officials have not confirmed the extent of the attack. The latest attack to hit Kenya came as cafes and bars were beginning to fill up with people expected to watch the World Cup game. According to Kenyan army spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir, the gunmen entered the western town of Mpeketoni, a trading centre on the main coastal road located around 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the border with Somalia, and began “shooting people around in town.” An investigation has been launched with “surveillance aircraft already airborne,” searching for the attackers, who are believed to have fled into a nearby forest.

While unconfirmed reports had initially indicated that the raid may have been linked to a land dispute between rival communities in the remote area, early on Monday Major Chirchir stated that the attackers are “likely to be al-Shabaab.” This statement was confirmed later Monday when a statement released by the militant group indicated that the attack was revenge for the “Kenyan government’s brutal oppression of Muslims in Kenya through coercion, intimidation and extrajudicial killings of Muslim scholars.” The group also condemned the “Kenyan military’s continued invasion and occupation of our Muslim lands and the massacre of innocent Muslims in Somalia,’ adding “to the tourists visiting Kenya we say this: Kenya is now a war zone and as such any tourists visiting the country do so at their own peril.”

The latest attack in Kenya comes just weeks after al-Shabaab’s most senior commander, Fuad Mohamed Khalaf, released a radio broadcast, urging his fighters to strike Kenya. Rising tensions in Kenya, coupled with on going militant threats and attacks have prompted a number of travel advisories to be issued by countries including the United States and United Kingdom. Following new warnings of terror attacks from Britain’s Foreign Office, hundreds of British tourists were evacuated last month from beach resorts near Kenya’s port city of Mombasa. Earlier this week, Britain released additional warnings to citizens in several East African nations, including Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Uganda, all of which have troops deployed in Somalia. According to Britain’s Foreign Office, there is currently a heightened threat of attacks at public screenings of the World Cup games. With the on going World Cup football tournament set to end on July 13, further attacks on bars and cafes showcasing the games are highly likely to occur.

While Kenya has suffered numerous militant attacks since deploying troops to neighbouring Somalia to combat the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab in 2011, this is the most deadly attack in the country since at least sixty-seven people were killed during a siege by al-Shabaab fighters at Nairobi’s Westgate shopping centre last September.

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