March 28 (Bloomberg) -- Kenyan police shot dead seven suspected separatists when they attacked a casino in the coastal town of Malindi, a police official said.
The raid took place at 2 a.m. in the town, 425 kilometers (264 miles) southeast of the capital, Nairobi, regional police chief Aggrey Adoli said in a phone interview today. Two policemen died in the confrontation that involved more than 100 suspected members of the Mombasa Republican Council, he said.
“The MRC tried to attack the casino,” Adoli said. “The police managed to repulse them.” An unspecified number of people were injured, he said.
The MRC, which says it has 2 million members, is seeking self-rule in the coastal region of Kenya, East Africa’s biggest economy. The group says the area, which serves as the main gateway for regional trade, has been marginalized from centralized power in Nairobi, leaving its residents poor and jobless.
The attackers fled with two AK-47 rifles they had taken from the two police officers who were killed, Adoli said.
“Our officers from an anti-stock-theft unit traced the attackers to a nearby forest and they exchanged fire,” Adoli said. “Unfortunately other wounded assailants fled with the stolen guns. We have arrested four members of the gang and we are pursuing the rest who escaped with bullets wounds and guns.”
Earlier this month, at least 14 people were killed when suspected members of the group carried out three separate attacks in the coast region ahead of the March 4 presidential election. The MRC had called for a boycott of the vote.
Almost 1.4 million people in Kenya’s Coast Province, or about 60 percent of the population, live in poverty compared with the national average of about 53 percent of people who are too poor to pay for basic goods, according data compiled by the country’s statistics bureau and the World Bank.
The MRC wants indigenous people to have more control over the port of Mombasa, East Africa’s biggest, and reap greater benefits from beach-tourism revenue as well as investment in titanium, iron ore, gold and oil exploration in the area.
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