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VAS

Five killed as militants launch fresh attacks in Lamu

COUNTIES
By Philip Mwakio and Paul Gitau | June 25th 2014

Residents of a remote village in Lamu County are fleeing towards Witu for safety following the gruesome murder of five men on Monday night, days after the massacre of more than 60 in Mpeketoni.

The village is only seven kilometres south of Mpeketoni where gunmen went on a night-long orgy of violence. 

Most of the victims of the Monday attack faced painful death as they first had their throats slit before being shot in the head.

They were fished from houses, trussed up and taken to the centre of the village where they were killed.

Several theories have emerged to explain the assault on the ethnically mixed village.

Some survivors claimed the victims were pulled out of their houses and shot dead after failing to prove they were Muslims.

But one survivor has suggested a land dispute was the cause of the killings.

Police have admitted the attack caught them flat-footed as the suspected Islamists walked away into the night after the slaughter.

Monday's attack at Kakathe village, Pandanguo sub-location in Witu resembled last week's carnage in Mpeketoni town and its environs.

The new wave of violence erupted a few hours after authorities in Mpeketoni ordered the dismantling of two displacement camps in Pangani created on June 17 to shelter close to 4,500 survivors.

"We believe it is the same gang that terrorised Mpeketoni and Pangani," said Ben Maisori, the assistant county commissioner in charge of Mpeketoni.

Like in last week's Mpeketoni killings, the victims were all male, appear to have been targeted on religious basis without police intervention. It is not clear how long the attack lasted but, like in last week's killings, the attackers walked away casually into the forest.

"We have spotted people fleeing their homes with the few household items they could carry," said Hassan Musa, the Kenya Red Cross Co-ordinator for Malindi and Magarini who also covers the affected area.

A witness, Malenya Aluvasa, said he lost two of his farm workers who were slaughtered by the 30-man gang.

Aluvasa said during the attack, he managed to run away and hide in his expansive farm.

"However, my farmhands were unfortunate and lost their lives in the attack," Aluvasa said.

He identified his workers as Johnstone Wabwire and Bernard Njiru.

Aluvasa, who is fearing for his life, said he suspected the attackers wanted to scare him out of the land he has been living on since 2001.

He claimed there is a case in court number 2 at the Witu mobile court, pitting him and two other locals.

Jonathan Kaingu Ngowa, 29, survived the brutal attack and is currently hospitalised at the Mpeketoni sub-county hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.

The five bodies were also taken to the hospital's mortuary.

Japheth Okoko, another witness who lives at the nearby Sendemke village, said the attackers were knocking on the residents' doors and forcing them out before terrorising them to death.

Andrew Wanjala, a 28-year-old farmer in the area, gave a chilling account of what happened during the attack that lasted for at least two hours.

"They came at around 9pm, and started firing in the air, shouting that kafirs (infidels) must leave this area and further bragged that they were responsible for the recent Mpeketoni attacks," said Wanjala.

The witness added that the group divided themselves into three, with one torching houses, another terrorising the victims while the rest were flushing people out of their houses.

Mpeketoni Ward Representative James Njomo has called on the Government to boost the Kenya Police Reserve numbers in Mpeketoni.

And Lamu Deputy Governor Eric Mugo said Mpeketoni should be secured and called on the Government to deploy Kenya Defence Forces troops to the area.

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