BY JOAN WANJIKU,NAIROBI,4TH JAN,2021-Four suspects have been arrested over Monday’s attack in Lamu where six people were killed in an attack linked to Al Shabaab militants.
Police said they are also investigating to establish if the attack is linked to a land dispute in the region pitting locals and people perceived to be non-locals.
“There are four suspects in custody arrested over the attack,” said Bruno Shioso, National Police Spokesman, “investigations have shown the attack is linked to local land disputes.”
He said there was another attack in Hindi area where 1 person was killed on Monday night.
Six people were killed and homes torched on Sunday night in a grisly attack that left one man beheaded.
Five were shot or burned to death in the assault on a village in Lamu County which began late Sunday and dragged into early Monday, police said.
Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia said the attackers were suspected to be from Al-Shabaab, the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militant group based across the border in Somalia.
But he said investigators were also looking into other motives, including a possible land dispute.
“We will explore all the angles,” he said.
“We suspect it is Al-Shabaab but that does not limit our investigations to other issues including a land tussle.”
There has not yet been any claim of responsibility for the attack.
Police said the assailants stabbed and beheaded a local elder and razed his home, and shot dead another man whose body was found on a roadside nearby.
The corpses of four other men burned beyond recognition were found with their hands bound in another location, according to a police report seen by AFP.
“Also several houses were torched within the locality and property of unknown value burnt,” the report said, adding that bullet casings were recovered.
A senior police officer in the area, which lies about 420 kilometres (260 miles) southeast of Nairobi, said four of those killed were not local residents, and that some may have been involved in land disputes, without elaborating.
Lamu County governor Fahim Twaha condemned those responsible for the “atrocities committed against innocent people”.
“It is our hope that the criminals will be apprehended soon. We are certain they will face God’s justice in this world and in the hereafter,” he told AFP.
– Retaliatory attacks –
The Lamu region, which includes the popular tourist beach destination of Lamu Island, lies close to the Somali frontier and has suffered frequent attacks, often carried out with roadside bombs.
In mid-2014, close to 100 people were killed in a series of armed assaults on the inland town of Mpeketoni — in the same region as Monday’s attack — and surrounding villages in Lamu County.
Al-Shabaab fighters have staged numerous attacks inside Kenya in retaliation for Nairobi sending troops into Somalia in 2011 as part of an African Union force to oust the jihadists.
In January 2020, the Islamists stormed a US military base in Lamu, destroying several aircraft and killing three Americans.
A year earlier, Al-Shabaab gunmen killed 21 people at an upscale hotel complex in Nairobi while previous attacks saw 67 people killed at the Westgate shopping centre in 2013 and 148 at Garissa University in 2015.
The jihadists are seeking to overthrow the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu, and control swathes of southern Somalia from where they regularly launch attacks in the capital and elsewhere.
Somalia is also in the grip of a political crisis with its president and prime minister locked in a feud over the country’s long-delayed elections, an impasse analysts say is distracting from the fight against Al-Shabaab.