Al-Shabaab jihadists have killed five civilians, some by beheading, in eastern Kenya, a witness and a police source told AFP on Sunday.
The attack occurred on Saturday around 7:30 pm (1630 GMT) in the villages of Juhudi and Salama in Lamu county, close to the Somali border, the source said.
“Five people were killed. The victims had their throats slit and there are others who were beheaded.”
One resident, Hassan Abdul, said that “women were locked in the houses and the men ordered out, where they were tied with ropes and butchered.”
A secondary school student was among the five people killed, Abdul said, adding that “all those killed had their throats cut and some of them had been beheaded.”
Another resident, Ismail Hussein, said the militants stole food supplies before leaving, firing their weapons into the air.
“We have enhanced security in that area after the attack,” Lamu County Commissioner Louis Rono said.
Based in Kenya’s eastern neighbor Somalia, the Al-Shabaab group has been waging a bloody jihadist insurgency against the fragile government in Mogadishu for more than 15 years.
Kenya first sent troops into Somalia in 2011 to combat the Al-Qaeda-affiliated militants and is now a major contributor of troops to an African Union military operation against the group.
But it has suffered a string of retaliatory assaults, including a bloody siege at the Westgate mall in Nairobi in 2013 that claimed 67 lives and an attack on Garissa University in 2015 that killed 148 people.
In Somalia itself, Al-Shabaab has continued to wage deadly attacks despite a major offensive launched last August by pro-government forces, backed by the AU force known as ATMIS.
Kenya’s Lamu region, which includes the popular tourist beach destination of Lamu Island, has suffered frequent attacks, often carried out with roadside bombs.
Saturday’s killings took place near Mpeketoni, a town around 450 kilometers (280 miles) from the capital Nairobi and 120 kilometers from the Somali border.
The area was hit by an attack attributed to Al-Shabaab in January 2022, in which six people were killed and homes torched.
In 2014, almost 100 people were killed in a series of armed assaults on Mpeketoni and surrounding villages in Lamu County.
In June, eight Kenyan police officers were killed when their vehicle was blown up by an improvised explosive device in a suspected Al-Shabaab attack in nearby Garissa county.
Kenya and Somalia agreed last month to gradually reopen three points on their land border, which was closed in 2011 in a bid to curb Al-Shabaab violence.