'Islamists' attack town near popular tourist destination in Kenya killing at least 48, officials say

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'Islamists' attack town near popular tourist destination in Kenya killing at least 48, officials say
Abdullahi Abdi, left, Chairman National Muslim Leaders Forum ( NAMLEF) with members of the Muslim Council of Kenya speaks to the media in Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday, June, 17, 2014. Extremists attacked a coastal area of Kenya for the second night in a row, killing at least nine people a day after the deaths of nearly 50, an official said Tuesday. Police spokesman Masoud Mwinyi said that al-Shabab militants attacked Majembeni village. The Somali militant group also claimed responsibility for the Sunday night attack in nearby Mpeketoni that killed 48 people. The Muslim leaders condemned the killings as savage acts and warned that they should not divide Kenyans along religious lines.(AP Photo/Sayyid Azim)
Abdullahi Abdi, left, Chairman National Muslim Leaders Forum ( NAMLEF), speaks during a press conference with Ibrahim Ahmed Yusuf, right, of the Jamia Mosque Committee in Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday, June, 17, 2014. Extremists attacked a coastal area of Kenya for the second night in a row, killing at least nine people a day after the deaths of nearly 50, an official said Tuesday. Police spokesman Masoud Mwinyi said that al-Shabab militants attacked Majembeni village. The Somali militant group also claimed responsibility for the Sunday night attack in nearby Mpeketoni that killed 48 people. The Muslim leaders condemned the killings as savage acts and warned that they should not divide Kenyans along religious lines.(AP Photo/Sayyid Azim)
Men look at a pool of blood at the entrance of a restaurant where most of the people who ran to hide were shot in the town of Mpeketoni, Lamu county on June 16, 2014 after some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of Lamu the night before. At least 49 people were killed when suspected Shebab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said June 16. AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011 file photo, hundreds of newly trained al-Shabab fighters perform military exercises in the Lafofe area some 18 kilometers (11 miles) south of Mogadishu, in Somalia. Kenyan officials said Monday, June 16, 2014 that militants wielding automatic weapons attacked the small Kenyan coastal town of Mpeketoni, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the Somali border, late Sunday night as town residents watched World Cup matches on TV, assaulting the police station, setting two hotels on fire, spraying bullets into the street, and killing dozens of people. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh, File)
SOMALIA, KENYA - JUNE 16: At least 53 people have been confirmed killed in attacks by suspected Al-Shabaab militants in the coastal town of Mpeketoni in Lamu County near Kenya's border with Somalia, June 16, 2014. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SOMALIA, KENYA - JUNE 16: At least 53 people have been confirmed killed in attacks by suspected Al-Shabaab militants in the coastal town of Mpeketoni in Lamu County near Kenya's border with Somalia, June 16, 2014. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SOMALIA, KENYA - JUNE 16: At least 53 people have been confirmed killed in attacks by suspected Al-Shabaab militants in the coastal town of Mpeketoni in Lamu County near Kenya's border with Somalia, June 16, 2014. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SOMALIA, KENYA - JUNE 16: At least 53 people have been confirmed killed in attacks by suspected Al-Shabaab militants in the coastal town of Mpeketoni in Lamu County near Kenya's border with Somalia, June 16, 2014. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A young man looks at the scene on June 16, 2014 where 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town of Mpeketoni near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of Lamu the night before. The assault on Mpeketoni, near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of Lamu, left at least 49 dead and was the worst attack by the Shebab on Kenyan soil since last September's siege of the Westgate shopping mall in the capital Nairobi, in which 67 people were killed. AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative of one of the victims makes a phone call in Mpeketoni, Lamu county along the Kenyan coast, on June 16, 2014, after some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of Lamu the night before. The assault on Mpeketoni, near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of Lamu, left at least 49 dead and was the worst attack by the Shebab on Kenyan soil since last September's siege of the Westgate shopping mall in the capital Nairobi, in which 67 people were killed. AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Kenya police observe the remains of burnt-out cars at a police station in Mpeketoni, Lamu county on June 16, 2014 after some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of Lamu the night before. At least 49 people were killed when suspected Shebab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said June 16. AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
A motor cyclist rides past a burnt out makeshift hotel where most of the people who ran to hide were shot in the town of Mpeketoni, Lamu county on June 16, 2014 after some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of Lamu the night before. At least 49 people were killed when suspected Shebab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said June 16. AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives and friends gather next to a car with burn-out remains of one of the locals at a police station in the town of Mpeketoni, Lamu county on June 16, 2014 after some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of Lamu the night before. At least 49 people were killed when suspected Shebab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said June 16. AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives and friends gather next to a car with burn-out remains of one of the locals at a police station in the town of Mpeketoni, Lamu county on June 16, 2014 after some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of Lamu the night before. At least 49 people were killed when suspected Shebab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said June 16. AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Kenya police observe the remains of burnt-out cars at a police station in Mpeketoni, Lamu county on June 16, 2014 after some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of lamu the night before. At least 49 people were killed when suspected Shebab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said June 16. AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Kenya men observe the remains of burnt-out cars at a police station in Mpeketoni, Lamu county on June 16, 2014 after some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of lamu the night before. At least 49 people were killed when suspected Shebab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said June 16. AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Family members wait to collect bodies of their relatives at Mpeketoni hospital in Lamu county on June 16, 2014 after some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of Lamu the night before. At least 48 people were killed when suspected Shebab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said June 16. AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Family members wait to collect bodies of their relatives at Mpeketoni hospital in Lamu county on June 16, 2014 after some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of Lamu the night before. At least 48 people were killed when suspected Shebab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said June 16. AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Family members wait to collect bodies of their relatives at Mpeketoni hospital in Lamu county on June 16, 2014 after some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of Lamu the night before. At least 48 people were killed when suspected Shebab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said June 16. AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
A morgue attendant walk past bodies of victims gathered in Mpeketoni, in Lamu county on June 16, 2014 , after some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of Lamu the night before. At least 49 people were killed when suspected Shebab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said June 16. AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
People gather next to charred vehicles outside a police station in Mpeketoni, in Lamu county along the Kenyan coast, after some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of lamu the night before. At least 48 people were killed when suspected Shebab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said June 16. AFP PHOTO/STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
Men wear protective gloves as they stand in and outside a house where the bodies of victims are gathered in Mpeketoni, in Lamu county along the Kenyan coast, after some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of lamu the night before. At least 48 people were killed when suspected Shebab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said June 16. AFP PHOTO/STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
Victims' bodies lie in the back of a truck in Mpeketoni, in Lamu county along the Kenyan coast, after some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of lamu the night before. At least 48 people were killed when suspected Shebab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said June 16. AFP PHOTO/STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
People gather to look at the body of a policeman killed in Mpeketoni, in Lamu county along the Kenyan coast, when some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of lamu the night before. At least 48 people were killed when suspected Shebab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said June 16. AFP PHOTO/STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
The body of a man lies where he was attacked and killed in Mpeketoni, in Lamu county along the Kenyan coast, after some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of lamu the night before. At least 48 people were killed when suspected Shebab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said June 16. AFP PHOTO/STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
People gather near the body of a man lying in the street in Mpeketoni, in Lamu county along the Kenyan coast, after some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of lamu the night before. At least 48 people were killed when suspected Shebab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said June 16 AFP PHOTO/STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
The body of a victim lies in a house in Mpeketoni, in Lamu county along the Kenyan coast, after some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of lamu the night before. At least 48 people were killed when suspected Shebab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said June 16. AFP PHOTO/STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
A man looks at the wreckage of a 14-seater mini-bus in Mpeketoni, in Lamu county along the Kenyan coast, after some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of lamu the night before. At least 48 people were killed when suspected Shebab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said June 16. AFP PHOTO/STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture shows a destroyed house in Mpeketoni, in Lamu county along the Kenyan coast, after some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of lamu the night before. At least 48 people were killed when suspected Shebab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said June 16. AFP PHOTO/STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
People gather around the wrekage of a car in Mpeketoni, in Lamu county along the Kenyan coast, after some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of lamu the night before. At least 48 people were killed when suspected Shebab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said June 16 AFP PHOTO/STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
Men look at the wreckage of two vehicles sitting on the roadside in Mpeketoni, in Lamu county along the Kenyan coast, after some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of lamu the night before. At least 48 people were killed when suspected Shebab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said June 16 AFP PHOTO/STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
People gather outside a building still smouldering in Mpeketoni, in Lamu county along the Kenyan coast, after some 50 heavily-armed gunmen attacked the town near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of lamu the night before. At least 48 people were killed when suspected Shebab militants from Somalia stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials said June 16. AFP PHOTO/STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
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NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Dozens of Somali extremists wielding automatic weapons attacked a small Kenyan coastal town for hours, assaulting the police station, setting two hotels on fire, and spraying bullets into the street. At least 48 people were killed, officials said Monday.

The assault began around 8 p.m. local time on Sunday night as town residents were watching World Cup matches on TV. The attack met little resistance from the country's security apparatus, and lasted until early Monday morning.

KENYA DISPLACED

Authorities blamed al-Shabab, Somalia's al-Qaida-linked terror group.

Kenya's top police commander, David Kimaiyo, said the death toll was 48. Another police commander said that as residents were watching the World Cup at the Breeze View Hotel, the gunmen pulled the men aside and ordered the women to watch as they killed them. The attackers told the women that that's what Kenyan troops are doing to Somalia men inside Somalia. The police commander insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to share that detail of the attack.

A police spokeswoman said authorities believe that several dozen attackers took part.

The assault occurred in the town of Mpeketoni, which is about 30 miles (20 kilometers) southwest of the tourist center of Lamu. Any tourism in Mpeketoni is mostly local, with few foreigners visiting the region. The town is about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the Somali border. Mpeketoni is about 360 miles (600 kilometers) from the capital, Nairobi.

Islamists, al-Shabaab, Kenya

Kenya has experienced a wave of gunfire and explosive attacks in recent months. The U.S., U.K., France, Australia, and Canada have all recently upgraded their terror threat warnings for the country. U.S. Marines behind sandbag bunkers are now stationed on the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.

The Interior Ministry said that at about 8 p.m. Sunday two minivans entered the town. Militants disembarked and began shooting. Kenya's National Disaster Operations Center said military surveillance planes were launched shortly afterward.

Mpeketoni

The nearby town of Lamu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the country's oldest continually inhabited town. The region saw a spate of kidnappings of foreign tourists in 2011 that Kenya said was part of its motivation for attacking Somalia. Since those attacks and subsequent terror warnings tourism has dropped off sharply around Lamu.

Al-Shabab has vowed to carry out terror attacks to avenge the Kenyan military presence in Somali. At least 67 people were killed in September when four al-Shabab gunmen attacked an upscale mall in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Kenya sent it troops to Somalia in October 2011.

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