NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Eighteen people were killed in overnight attacks by gunmen in two counties on the Kenyan coast, where last month al-Qaida-linked militants claimed responsibility for killing 65 people, the Kenya Red Cross said Sunday.
The Sunday attacks took place in the towns of Hindi in Lamu county and Gamba in Tana River, the 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 Njenga Miiri, 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 David Kimaiyo said.
Hindi is about 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Mpeketoni where dozens were killed in an attack last month, while Gamba is about 70 kilometers (43 miles) northwest of Mpeketoni.
The Kenya Red Cross said nine 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 said to be non-Muslim, who were killed when the gunmen attacked the police station, said a senior police officer who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the media. 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 Oct. 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 – assertions that have been met with skepticism.
Late last month police arrested Lamu Governor Issa Timamy and have charged him for murder, forceful eviction of population and terrorism charges in connection to the Mpeketoni attacks.