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Attackers raid Kenya coast village, steal police guns

Source: Reuters - Fri, 11 Jul 2014 07:21 GMT
Author: Reuters
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MOMBASA, Kenya, July 11 (Reuters) - Armed assailants attacked a village on Kenya's coast, stole guns from police reservists and burnt down a primary school, an official said on Friday, in the latest in a series of raids since mid-June that have killed about 100 people.

There were no immediate reports of casualties in the attack on Thursday night in the village of Panda Nguo, which lies in Lamu County on the northern coast where most of the attacks have taken place.

It was not clear who carried out the assault. "Unknown criminals burnt down the administration block, classrooms and a store," the senior regional official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.

The spike in attacks on the coast, long a hotbed of discontent, has raised fears of a full-blown insurgency unless the government tackles problems of ethnic rivalries, land rows and Islamist militancy.

The Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks, including deadly raids on the Mpeketoni area, which lies in Lamu County, in which about 65 people were killed in back-to-back assaults over 24 hours.

The government has dismissed that claim, blaming local political networks - widely seen as directed at President Uhuru Kenyatta's main opponent Raila Odinga and his opposition allies.

Security forces have been deployed to the region and are combing forests where the attackers are thought to be hiding. There have been dozens of arrests linked to the assaults.

Analysts say a confluence of factors is likely at work, with local operatives and al Shabaab militants exploiting public frustration at the government. Many on the coast accuse the government of neglecting their region.

Al Shabaab has said it has launched attacks on Kenya to drive Kenyan and other African Union forces out of Somalia.

Hundreds of families have fled the area where the attacks have occurred, most of them in Lamu County which stretches to the Somali border.

The attack on Panda Nguo took place at about 1am, said Karisa Charo, a tribal chief in the area.

"Apart from burning down houses and stealing guns, they took away all the drugs and other medical supplies from (the)... dispensary," Charo said.

Police could not immediately be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Joseph Akwiri; Writing by Edmund Blair; editing by Drazen Jorgic and John Stonestreet)

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