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Source: Al Jazeera English

Unidentified gunmen have attacked a coastal town in Kenya’s Lamu county and set fire to at least three hotels and a petrol station, authorities have said.

Police said the assailants also attacked a police station on Sunday after they arrived at Mpeketoni on mainland Lamu in a van.

“Attackers hijacked a van from Witu town which they used for the attacks. They raided Mpeketoni police station first and opened fire,” Hamaton Mwaliko, Mpeketoni area administration police chief, told the Reuters news agency.

“Some hotels in the town are on fire. We don’t know how many casualties are there for now. We understand the attackers have already fled but our officers are pursuing them.”

Kenya’s National Disaster Operation Centre said on Twitter that the attack has been linked to the Somalia-based group al-Shabab, which has been blamed for previous violence in Kenya.

The country’s Interior Ministry had earlier reported that the attackers had arrived in two public minibuses and started shooting at residents.

Deadly attacks

Kenya sent troops into Somalia in late 2011, after al-Shabab fighters carried out a series of raids on Kenyan soil.

Al-Shabab, which has fought a seven-year campaign to impose its interpretation of Islamic law inside Somalia, has said it wants to take revenge for Kenya’s deployment of troops in the Horn of Africa nation.

Kenya has seen a drop in tourist arrivals in recent months following a string of gun and grenade attacks blamed on the group or its sympathisers.

In May explosions in Nairobi and the coastal city of Mombasa led Britain, the United States, France and Australia to issue warnings about travel to the east African country, and at least 400 tourists cut short their holidays and left hotels along the Indian Ocean coast.

Kenya called the alerts “unfriendly”, saying they would increase panic and play into the hands of those behind the assaults.

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