Four policemen among 7 dead in Lamu attack
Four policemen are among the seven killed after gunmen attacked a Tahmeed bus near Witu in Lamu County, a security official on the ground confirmed on Saturday.
Three of the policemen killed are Administration Police (AP) officers, he said.
Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack, AFP reported.
Eight people were injured in the incident, including a passenger and policeman who were taken to Malindi hospital – some 117 kilometres from the scene – to have a bullet lodged in his abdomen removed.
The passenger was, however, confirmed dead on arrival at the hospital.
At the Mpeketoni sub-district hospital morgue, an official said they received three bodies of three police officers on Friday night – one shot on the neck, another through the right eye and the third on the chest.
Three more bodies were received by the hospital mortuary on Saturday morning, a health officer said.
Kenya Red Cross Lamu coordinator Abdulkadir Mohammed said three bodies received on Saturday belong to a male nurse at Hindi Prison Dispensary, the driver of the Tahmeed bus identified as Wilson Muthama, and a driver of a Toyota Probox used by the gunmen.
FIRST TIME ON THE ROUTE
The driver of the ill-fated bus is said to have been newly recruited and had previously worked for Eldoret Express, another bus company.
The journey to Lamu was his first on the route.
The bus conductor, Kassim Hamadi, 30, is currently recuperating at Mpeketoni sub-district hospital after having been shot on the right leg.
Mr Hamadi said that as they passed the National Youth Service (NYS) base at Witu en route to Lamu, they spotted a white Toyota Probox on the middle of the road.
Two armed men, whom they thought were police officers, were standing on both sides of the road.
It was around 6:45pm.
“The two gunmen, whom we thought were police officers, suddenly started to shoot in the air and ordered the driver to make a u-turn to where we had come from. As he was reversing the bus, they started shooting sporadically at the bus,” Mr Hamadi said.
He said the gunmen ordered the driver to get out of the bus and then slit his throat.
A little later, though injured, Mr Hamadi could see the driver’s body as it lay by the roadside.
ATTACKER SPOKE SOMALI AND SWAHILI
As the shooting by the gunmen went on, all passengers put their heads under the seats.
After a while, the shooting stopped.
The gunmen used the bus they had hijacked to block the road. Three private vehicles were stopped, the owners were robbed of money and other personal effects before the gunmen let them go.
Mr Hamadi said the attackers were young men who spoke Somali and Swahili.
A Land Cruiser belonging to the police emerged later but they were caught in crossfire as more gunmen emerged from the bush, attacking the police vehicle.
Another survivor, Simon Mbaji Kitole, 44, a resident of Mtwapa, was a passenger travelling to Hindi in Lamu to visit his cousin.
He was shot on the right leg above the knee during the attack. He and the conductor are the only attack survivors admitted to the Mpeketoni hospital.
Four others were Friday night taken to Witu Health Centre. They include three police officers and a female passenger.
Two other passengers with serious gunshot wounds, a police officer and a male passenger, were taken to Malindi District Hospital. The passenger was confirmed dead on arrival.