Kenya Probing al-Shabaab Links After Mombasa Barracks Attack

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Kenyan authorities are investigating whether a raid on an army barracks in the port city of Mombasa yesterday that left six of the attackers dead is linked to al-Shabaab militants or a separatist movement.

A group of 20 youths armed with machetes and knives attacked the camp in the Nyali suburb yesterday morning, Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa told reporters. One assailant was arrested and has provided information about the others involved, he said. A soldier who battled the attackers died of his injuries, the Daily Nation newspaper said in a text message, citing Deputy Chief of Defence Forces Lieutenant-General Samson Mwathethe.

Investigations are under way to establish if the Mombasa attack is linked to al-Shabaab, which Kenya’s army is fighting in neighboring Somalia, or the Mombasa Republican Council, which seeks autonomy for the coastal region, Marwa said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the assault. Mombasa Republican Council Secretary-General Randu Nzai Ruwa denied any link to his organization.

“We don’t believe in violence -- we have always addressed all our issues through courts,” he said by phone from Mombasa yesterday.

A near-simultaneous attack on a police barracks yesterday in the nearby town of Malindi was also repelled, the Nairobi-based Business Daily newspaper reported, without providing further information.

Attacks in Kenya soared after the government in 2011 sent troops into Somalia to fight al-Shabaab following a wave of kidnappings and the murder of a British tourist in Kenya that the government blamed on the group.

Last year the Islamist militia claimed responsibility for an attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi that left 67 people dead and the country has faced bombings of bars, churches, and markets.