(Adds details, quotes, background)
MOMBASA, Kenya, June 15 Unidentified gunmen
attacked a coastal town in Kenya's Lamu county and set fire to
at least three hotels and a petrol station on Sunday evening,
police and the Kenya Red Cross said.
Police said the attackers arrived at Mpeketoni on mainland
Lamu in a van and then also attacked a police station.
"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 Reuters.
"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."
The Interior Ministry had earlier reported on its Twitter
feed the attackers had arrived in two public minibuses and
started shooting at residents.
It was not immediately clear how many attackers were
involved and what group if any, they belonged to, and if there
"We have reports of consistent gunfire in Lamu county which
started at 8:30pm (1730 GMT). We still don't know what exactly
is happening but our officers are on the ground," Mwanaisha
Hamisi, Kenya Red Cross coordinator for the coast region told
Reuters by phone.
Kenya sent troops into Somalia in late 2011, after al
Shabaab Islamic militants carried out a series of raids on
Kenya has seen a drop in tourist arrivals in recent months
following a string of gun and grenade attacks blamed on al
Shabaab or its sympathisers.
The nearby island of Lamu is a popular tourist destination
Al Shabaab, which has fought a bloody 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.
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 gun
and grenade assaults.
(Reporting by Joseph Akwiri; Writing by George Obulutsa;
Editing by Eric Walsh)