MOMBASA, Kenya (Reuters) - Kenyan police seized weapons including bows and arrows and machetes in a raid on Saturday on what police said was a training camp used by a group that wants independence for a strip of Indian Ocean coast.
The camp was found in a forest north of Mombasa, Kenya’s oldest city and biggest port on a stretch of coast popular with tourists, Julius Wanjohi, local area police chief told Reuters, saying it was operated by the Mombasa Republican Council. The MRC denied any link to the camp or the weapons.
The MRC, which wants the coast to be independent, has threatened to disrupt Kenya’s presidential election due in March, the first since a disputed 2007 vote. The government says the MRC is outlawed and has arrested senior leaders in recent months, but the group still operates and its members are not in hiding.
“We recovered over 40 bows and arrows, over 10 machetes, several gallons full of petrol we believe was to be used to make improvised explosives, and witchcraft paraphernalia which the suspects told us were used for oathing rituals,” Wanjohi said.
The MRC rejected the claims by the police.
“Police should find out who those people involved are because it is not us. We are pursuing legal means,” Randu Nzai Ruwa, the MRC’s secretary told Reuters on telephone.
Sixty men armed with machetes, clubs and bows and arrows were stopped on their way to steal guns from a police station in Mombasa on Monda, in the biggest attack police have blamed on the separatists.
Reporting by Joseph Akwiri; Editing by Duncan Miriri and Jason Webb