Africa

Kenya police arrest regional governor after coastal attacks

Kenyan police officers walk past a fire used to barricade a main road after unidentified gunmen recently attacked the coastal Kenyan town of Mpeketoni on 17 June 2014 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Kenya's government says security has been increased in many parts of the country against militant attacks

Police in Kenya have arrested a regional governor in connection with a series of gun attacks in the coastal town of Mpeketoni earlier this month that killed at least 60 people.

Issa Timamy, governor of Lamu County where the town is located, is due to appear in court on Thursday.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has blamed "local political networks" for the violence.

But the Somali Islamist group, al-Shabab, said it was behind the attacks.

Separatist arrests

President Kenyatta has dismissed al-Shabab's claims because members of one ethnic group were targeted in the attacks.

Most of the dead were ethnic Kikuyus, like the president. Non-Muslims were singled out to be killed.

Mr Timamy belongs to the United Democratic Front (UDF), an affiliate of Mr Kenyatta's governing Jubilee coalition.

Opposition parties have ridiculed Mr Kenyatta's claim and opposition leader Raila Odinga has called for dialogue with the government to address the security failings.

The authorities also announced on Wednesday that they had arrested 13 alleged separatists accused of planning more attacks on the coast.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The Kenyan Red Cross says about 600 households are taking refuge in two camps after fleeing the violence

In a statement, the interior ministry said those arrested were suspected of plotting "ethnic cleansing" attacks and were members of the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), a coastal separatist group.

On Tuesday, five people were killed in attack by an armed gang on the village of Witu, about 15km (nine miles) from the town of Mpeketoni.

Last week's attacks in Mpeketoni started on the evening of 15 June as locals were watching a football World Cup match on television.

Gunmen went on to carry out further assaults in villages nearby the next day.

The Kenyan government has since issued advice urging people to watch World Cup matches at home rather than gathering in bars or others public places.

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