Five civilians were killed and some beheaded in an attack on Saturday evening in two villages in eastern Kenya claimed by the radical Islamist Shebab, police and local sources said on Sunday.
The attack was carried out at around 19:30 (16:30 GMT) on Saturday in the villages of Juhudi and Salama, located in the coastal county of Lamu, which borders Somalia, according to these sources.
"Five people were killed (...) The victims' throats were slit and others were beheaded," a police source told AFP.
"They (the assailants) were armed with machetes and some had firearms, but they did not shoot at them. The victims' throats were slit and others were decapitated", added this source.
A resident of one of the villages, Hassan Abdul, said that "the women were locked in the houses and the men were ordered to come out, they were tied up with ropes and massacred".
"In total, five people were killed, including a secondary school pupil. (...) All those killed had their throats slit and some were beheaded", he added, claiming to have counted between 20 and 30 assailants.
According to another resident, Ismail Hussein, the attackers also seized goods belonging to the residents, in particular foodstuffs, before fleeing by firing into the air.
The Lamu County Prefect, Louis Rono, confirmed the attack but did not give a death toll. "We have increased security in the area following last night's attack," he said on Sunday.
The Shebab, a group affiliated to al-Qaeda, claimed in a statement to have carried out an operation on the village of Juhudi, saying they had killed "six members of the Kenyan infidels" and "burnt down ten houses where Christians were living".
- Deadly attacks - For more than 15 years, the Shebab have been fighting the federal Somali government, backed by the international community, to establish Islamic law in this country in the Horn of Africa.
Since its military intervention in southern Somalia in 2011 and then its participation in the African Union force in Somalia (Amisom, now Atmis) created in 2012 to combat this insurgency, neighbouring Kenya has also been targeted by this group, which also recruits among the local youth.
Deadly attacks targeted the Westgate shopping centre in the capital Nairobi in September 2013 (67 dead), Garissa University in April 2015 (148 dead) and the Dusit hotel complex, also in Nairobi, in January 2019 (21 dead).
Numerous other smaller-scale attacks regularly target police and civilians in the border counties of Mandera, Wajir, Garissa and Lamu, home to the tourist island of the same name.
Saturday's attack took place in the vicinity of Mpeketoni, an inland town around 450 km as the crow flies from the capital Nairobi and around 120 km from the Somali border.
The area had already been targeted on 2 January 2022 by an attack attributed to the Shebab, in which one man was decapitated and five others shot or burnt to death, according to a police report.
In 2014, a series of raids claimed by the Shebab left around a hundred people dead.
On 14 June, eight police officers were killed when their vehicle was destroyed by an improvised explosive device in Garissa county.
On 15 May, Kenya and Somalia announced the gradual reopening at three points of their land border, which had been officially closed in 2011 in an attempt to curb Shebab attacks.