White man speaking ‘fluent English’ was in charge of Kenya al-Shabaab attacks which left more than 60 dead
- Several residents in Mpeketoni reported that they saw a pale-skinned man
- They said he spoke English and Arabic giving orders to the gunmen
- At least 60 people died in the Kenyan coastal town of Mpeketoni on Sunday
- Then 24 hours later, gunmen raided nearby Poromoko village
- Reports that 12 women were abducted have now turned out to be false
A white man speaking ‘fluent English’ was in charge of an Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab which gunned down at least 60 people in a Kenyan coastal town on Sunday evening, according to witnesses.
Several residents in Mpeketoni reported that they saw a pale-skinned man who spoke English and Arabic giving orders to the gunmen.
The eyewitness accounts support the theory that the men were sent by al-Shabaab by a seasoned foreign jihadi unit now working with the Somali Islamists.
Residents barricade a road as they protest against the recent killings in the village of Kibaoni. Militants linked to Al Qaeda have carried out two massacres in the area – claiming 60 lives
A man observes the remains of destroyed vehicles and buildings in the town of Mpeketoni after the area was attacked by extremists this week. Terror group Al Shabaab have warned tourists they visit the country ‘at their own peril’
‘I saw a white man who was speaking in fluent British English commanding the rest of the attackers,’ said Mary Gachoki, a teacher who lives in Mpeketoni and speaks good English told The Telegraph.
Today the Inspector General of Police said several people have been arrested including suspected ringleaders.
David Kimaiyo also said that someone had been arrested for using social media to say that al-Shabaab was behind the attacks.
‘We have arrested several suspects in connection to Mpeketoni incident including the owner and driver of one the vehicles used by attackers,’ Mr Kimaiyo said on Twitter.
‘Also in police custody is a suspect who was operating social media accounts purportedly used by al-Shabaab to claim responsibility.’
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said al-Shabaab was not behind deadly attacks on Kenya’s coast, contradicting the militant group’s claims
Today it emerged that reports 12 women were abducted from the Poromoko district near Mpeketoni were abducted have turned out to be false.
Yesterday Kenya’s president said al-Shabaab was not behind deadly attacks on Kenya’s coast, contradicting the militant group’s claims.
Somalia’s al Shabaab militant group has said its gunmen carried out the attacks on the town of Mpeketoni on Sunday night and on a nearby village early on Tuesday morning.
In comments that could further stoke political tensions in a country where allegiances generally run along ethnic lines, President Uhuru Kenyatta instead pointed the finger at rivals he described as ‘hate-mongers’, though he did not name anybody.
‘The attack in Lamu was well planned, orchestrated and politically motivated ethnic violence against the Kenyan community,’ Kenyatta told the nation in an address, referring to Lamu county where the two attacks took place.
‘This, therefore, was not an al Shabaab terrorist attack. Evidence indicates local political networks were involved in the planning and execution of the heinous crime. This also played into the opportunist network of other criminal gangs,’ he said.
Blaming domestic rivals could ease pressure on Kenyatta’s government, which has faced strong criticism about its handling of security and the threat from Somali-linked militants.
Analysts said politicising the issue of security by either side risked undermining efforts to tackle shortcomings.
Kenyan police officers patrol Mavuno villages near Mpeketoni after unidentified gunmen attacked the coastal Kenyan town. Hotels are believed to be 80 per cent empty in Mombasa, the country’s second city
Kenya police observe the remains of burnt-out cars at a police station in Mpeketoni. Kenya’s tourist board in London has attempted to play down the threats in a bid to save the tourism industy
‘We live at a time when our people are vulnerable to reckless leaders and hate-mongers who manipulate them to create hate, intolerance and fanaticism, which makes them easy prey to radicalisation and crime,’ Kenyatta said in his address.
Though Kenyatta, an ethnic Kikuyu, did not mention him, his comments appeared directed at his opponent and main presidential challenger in last year’s election, Raila Odinga, an ethnic Luo, who returned to Kenya in May after a long period abroad.
Odinga has been rallying supporters and has urged dialogue with the government. He has condemned the latest assaults.
In Sunday’s attack, gunmen stormed Mpeketoni, which lies near the popular tourist attraction of Lamu town, and killed 49 people.
Then 24 hours later, gunmen raided nearby Poromoko village, going through the town from house to house and ordering residents to recite an Islamic creed, witnesses said.
Kenya has blamed al Shabaab for a spate of gun and bomb attacks in recent months. Kenya also holds al Shabab responsible for an attack on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall in September last year in which 67 people were killed.
Al Shabaab has said its attacks are intended to punish Kenya for sending troops to Somalia to confront its Islamist fighters. Kenya has previously said it would keep its troops in Somalia.
Witnesses in Mpeketoni said they heard the gunmen speak Somali, although that does not automatically link them to al Shabaab as Kenya has a large minority with Somali origins who also speak the language.
Violence between different ethnic groups is not uncommon in Kenya.
Riot policemen remove a road barricade of a truck burnt by protestors along the streets after the attack in Mpeketoni
Kenya has blamed al Shabaab for a spate of gun and bomb attacks in recent months. Kenya also holds al Shabab responsible for an attack on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall in September last year in which 67 people were killed
Tribes of Somali origin and other ethnic groups have in the past fought over land and other issues, though that has mostly occurred in Kenya’s lawless northern border area.
After the 2007 presidential vote in Kenya, ethnic tensions erupted into violence that killed about 1,200 people.
In a statement condemning the Mpeketoni attack on Monday, Odinga said: ‘This is not time for blame games … We must as leaders and as a nation rally together to respond to this serious national tragedy.’
The new attacks have fuelled public criticism of the government for failing to do more to improve national security.
Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku, who has defended his government’s security efforts, has been a particular target for fury.
Many Kenyans have said he should have been fired after the Westgate crisis, particularly after soldiers involved in retaking the mall from militants were found to have looted it.
Ole Lenku said he sacked a senior regional officer in Lamu county after this week’s attack.
Brutal: Kenyan residents at the scene of one of the bodies of those killed in nearby Mpeketoni on Sunday. Police believe the Poromoko attack was carried out by the same group of Islamist militants
Grim task: Family members wait to collect bodies of their relatives at Mpeketoni hospital in Lamu county following Sunday night’s massacre
Cowardly: At least 48 people were killed in the Sunday night raid and two hotels were set on fire before the gunmen fled into surrounding undergrowth
Kenyatta said security officials, who he said ignored intelligence, would face charges.
The series of recent assaults have hammered the vital tourist industry, particularly on the coast.
Some hotels in the palm-fringed coastal region say they face closure, while others which offer safaris up-country say bookings are down 30 percent – a worrying sign as the July-to-September peak tourist season approaches.
‘This government is full of talk and no action,’ said one angry resident in Mpeketoni, speaking as Ole Lenku arrived in the town on Tuesday.
‘They keep saying the country is safe and we keep on suffering at the hands of terrorists.’
The Red Cross had previously put the death toll for the Mpeketoni assault at 50 but on Tuesday said the total figure was 49.
That number did not include victims of the latest attack.