Skip to main content

Gunmen open fire in Kenyan coastal town, set fire to hotels

By Nima Elbagir, Ralph Ellis and Azadeh Ansari, CNN
June 16, 2014 -- Updated 2137 GMT (0537 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: A World Cup viewing party turned into a bloodbath, eyewitnesses say
  • The Red Cross says the death toll is 48
  • The Kenyan National Disaster Operation Centre blames the attacks on Al-Shabaab
  • Explosions in Nairobi last month killed at least 10 people

(CNN) -- Bodies were strewn in the streets amid a backdrop of burned cars and charred buildings in the small Kenyan coastal town of Mpeketoni on Monday.

This quaint town, nestled in the well-known tourist resort of Lamu Island on the Indian Ocean, has been the latest target for attackers thought to be members of the Al- Shabaab terrorist group.

A World Cup viewing party turned into a bloodbath, eyewitnesses told CNN on Sunday. Armed men stormed the city center, shooting and hacking people to death before moving into a residential area, where they went from door to door, the witnesses said.

Mpeketoni sits to the west of the Kenya-Somalia border, where the Kenyan army is fighting troops loyal to the al Qaeda-linked militant group.

Gunmen attack Kenyan town
Kenya travel warning
Map: Mpeketoni, Kenya  Map: Mpeketoni, Kenya
Map: Mpeketoni, KenyaMap: Mpeketoni, Kenya

There were no claims of responsibility for the attacks, but the Kenyan Disaster Operation Centre blamed them on Al-Shabaab.

The heavily armed gunmen, many in military uniforms, attacked hotels, a restaurant, gas station, bank, police station and a government office, according to the Kenyan Red Cross. Video from the scene shows burned-out vehicles and walls pockmarked by bullets.

"As of now, we have not been able to identify the real number of the casualties who might be in the other hotels which have already been burnt out," said Eric Mugo, deputy governor of Lamu.

The Kenya Red Cross put the death toll from the incidents at 48.

Last month, at least 10 people were killed in two explosions in central Nairobi.

As many as 76 people were wounded in the blasts at the Gikomba market and on a public minibus, the disaster agency said. Ambulances evacuated 43 injured males and 33 injured females, the Kenya National Disaster Operation Centre said.

Two suspects were arrested in connection with the explosions, which were caused by grenades, Nairobi Police Commandant Benson Kibuye said.

The Kenyan military crossed into Somalia in 2011 to battle Al-Shabaab, which it blamed for kidnapping tourists in the coastal region. In retaliation, the terrorist group has launched a spate of attacks, including targeting bustling bus stations with grenades.

Last year, Al-Shabaab militants stormed the Westgate Mall in Nairobi and held shoppers for days. At least 67 people were killed.

Residents of Mpeketoni are now left to piece together what remains of their small town. One body at a time, names are put to faces lost to the recent wave of brutal attacks.

READ: The day that changed Kenya: How medics saved lives in deadly Westgate attack

CNN's Joyce Joseph and Lillian Leposo contributed to this report. Journalist Dihoff Mokotu reported from Mpeketoni, Kenya.

Part of complete coverage on
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Experts believe that ISIS may be using a Spanish enclave to bring jihad to Europe.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1300 GMT (2100 HKT)
With an efficient subway, inexpensive taxis and a good public bus system, Hong Kong is normally an easy city to navigate ...
September 28, 2014 -- Updated 2332 GMT (0732 HKT)
CNN's Ivan Watson was in the middle of a pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong when things got out of hand.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
The world's animal population has halved in 40 years as humans put unsustainable demands on Earth, a new report warns.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1249 GMT (2049 HKT)
Every day, refugees and migrants risk their lives as they seek a new life. Now, a new report puts a figure to the number of victims.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1442 GMT (2242 HKT)
Mainstream commentators must promote positive role models to Muslims feeling victimized, writes Ghaffar Hussain.
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 0613 GMT (1413 HKT)
Two men familiar with inside knowledge of ISIS speak with CNN's Arwa Damon.
Explore CNN's interactive that explains ISIS' roots, what it controls, and where its support comes from.
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 2010 GMT (0410 HKT)
In his first-ever interview as the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani defended his country against allegations of funding terrorism.
September 27, 2014 -- Updated 1503 GMT (2303 HKT)
The North Korean leader hasn't been seen for weeks, leading to speculation that he is in poor health.
September 24, 2014 -- Updated 0154 GMT (0954 HKT)
Haider al-Abadi hopes airstrikes don't lead to "of another terrorist element" instead of ISIS.
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
The United States couldn't do it on its first try. Neither could the Soviets.
September 24, 2014 -- Updated 1529 GMT (2329 HKT)
CNN's Nima Elbagir reflects on a harrowing trip to Liberia where she covered the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1423 GMT (2223 HKT)
Contrary to public opinion, rats can actually save lives -- Apopo's rats have actually saved thousands.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1336 GMT (2136 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT