Eight injured as gangs strike Mombasa again

Maitha Safari at Coast General Referral Hospital in Mombasa. With him is his sister Kauchi Charo. He was attacked with a machete at Kongowea in Mombasa. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Eight people were slashed and left for dead on Saturday in Nyali and Kisauni areas by gangs.

Seven people were attacked in Nyali on Saturday morning, while an eighth person was attacked in Mishomoroni area of Kisauni.

The fresh attacks come barely a month after similar gangs swept through Kisauni and Nyali, attacking people. The gangs seem to be targeting market vendors and boda boda operators.

Police and victims have given conflicting accounts of the Saturday incident reported within the VoK and Kongowea areas in Nyali.

Normal robbery

While the victims told The Standard that about 20 male youths were involved in the VoK and Kongowea attacks, police said only five youths were involved.

Coast Regional Police Commander Rashid Yakub also described the Saturday attacks as “normal robbery and not as violent as the ones witnesses a month ago."

The August 6 attacks that Mr Yakub was comparing the last Saturday attacks with, left 14 men and women nursing knife injuries.

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The August attacks sparked protests after police were accused of slow response to their distress call. The protests led to mass transfers of police bosses in Mombasa. Yakub came after those attacks.

At least eight students, aged between 17 and 18, were among 30 people who were charged in connection with the August attacks.

At the time, the attackers were either on foot or riding motorcycles and trucks in which they loaded goods robbed from shops and supermarkets.

Frantic calls

Victims said despite frantic calls being made to the police, it took officers close to three hours to respond, long after the attackers had left.

Leaders at the coast also said they were surprised that a gang of 30 men could terrorise people for three hours, a stone’s throw away from a police post.

The machete-wielding youths are said to have been in three groups, each comprising 10 men.

One of the attacks happened only 100 metres from Kazandani police post. Another took place about 200 metres from a chief’s camp.

"Saturday incident was just a normal robbery and not an attack like the previous one. We have managed to arrest three suspects," Yakub said.

"One of the suspects is wanted by different authorities. We have been looking for him for a long time," he added.

He said the three suspects were being interrogated by police.

Victims, some who were returning from a wedding, told The Standard the VoK and Kongowea attacks began slightly after midnight, with the violence escalating at 5am on Saturday.

They said the attackers were mostly targeting early risers. Those who encountered the gangs were robbed, slashed and beaten with crude weapons.

One of the victims said he was forced to sit on the tarmac after surrendering money and a cellphone.

According to other witnesses, the attacks occurred soon after police had ended their night patrols. 

Doctors at the Coast General Hospital, where some of the victims were yesterday admitted, told The Standard four of the victims suffered life threatening injuries.

Machete injury

A Tuktuk operator identified only as Ali, who escaped with machete injury on his head, said he saw about 15 armed men pin down a woman, as others slashed her near VoK.

“As I was heading to the market, I suddenly realised we were surrounded by a gang of about 15 young men," said Ali.

"Some of them grabbed a woman and pinned her down. When I tried to intervene, I was slashed on the head.”

Maitha Safari, whose hands were cut, said he was returning from a wedding at around 5am when he encountered about 20 men near Kongowea.

He said he was ordered to sit on the ground and was immediately slashed when he resisted the orders.

“Two men attacked me and slashed my right hand,” he said.

Another victim, Martin Safari, was also treated for a head injury.

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Coast General Referral HospitalThe Standard