World

Al-Shabab Vows Kenya A 'War Zone' After Second Attack

Somali-based militant grop Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for a series of overnight raids on villages along Kenya's coast.

Al-Shabab Vows Kenya A 'War Zone' After Second Attack
Kenya CitizenTV

For the second night in a row, Al-Qaeda-linked militants launched a deadly attack in Kenya, having declared the country a "war zone."

At least 15 people are dead after raids on several villages along the Kenyan coast Monday night. Witnesses say the gunmen whose faces were covered set fire to houses. (Via NTV)  

The area isn't far from the town of Mpeketoni, where Sunday night, dozens of heavily-armed gunmen arrived in hijacked vans. They opened fire indiscriminately on shops, hotels and on fans watching the World Cup. (Via Kenya CitizenTV)

The attackers reportedly spared the lives of some women, instead making them watch as they shot the men. In all, 48 people died Sunday night as the gunmen went door-to-door demanding to know who was Muslim. (Via KTN)

Somali militant group Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for both Sunday's and Monday's attacks. In a statement obtained by The Guardian, the group issued this chilling warning to foreigners: “Kenya is now officially a war zone and any tourists visiting the country do so at their own peril.”

Sunday night’s attack was the most deadly since Al-Shabab's September raid on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi. Sixty-seven people died in that attack — some after they wouldn’t answer questions about Islam. (Via K24)

The group later said the mall siege was revenge for the presence of Kenyan troops in Somalia. In 2011, Kenya deployed troops to help Somalia’s weak government drive out the insurgents. (Via Channel 4)

Analysts say these back-to-back rampages show Al-Shabab is still capable of carrying out large-scale attacks, despite beefed up security measures installed in the wake of the Nairobi attack. 

But unlike previous headline-grabbing attacks, these latest attacks targeted small villages — which a correspondent for the BBC says represents a change in tactic. (Via Euronews)

DENNIS OKARI, BBC CORRESPONDENT: “It's a shift from what they've done in the past. ... It appears that they’re now targeting villages where they know Kenyan security forces will take time to be deployed.”

Critics say the Kenyan government is too disorganized to defeat Al-Shabab. As The New York Times puts it, the “militants seem able to come and go at will, often with disastrous consequences.”

Last month, several Western nations warned that parts of the Kenyan coast were at high risk for a terrorist attack. The New York Times reports several Western embassies are now reportedly considering withdrawing their personnel.