• Those behind the attack are suspected to be from the Wakali Kwanza, one of two notorious gangs operating in the coastal region known for drug trafficking, muggings and violent robberies.
• Muhuri chair Khelef Khalifa questioned the timing of the attack and blamed them on decision by the government to move the clearing of goods from the Mombasa port to Nairobi.
At least 11 people were seriously injured after machete-wielding men attacked Bumburi area in Mombasa, in an apparent a turf war between rival gangs.
Witnesses said the group, made up of at least 30 young men armed with machetes, knives and other crude weapons, slashed at anyone in sight.
Many of their victims bore deep machete cuts on their heads, stomachs, hands, necks, legs and backs.
The injured were rushed to a local clinic before being transferred to Coast General Hospital in the city of Mombasa for further treatment.
Police responded to the attack and gunshots could still be heard on Monday evening.
Those behind the attack are suspected to be from Wakali Kwanza, one of two notorious gangs operating in the coastal region known for drug trafficking, muggings and violent robberies.
Police believe the latest attacks were a show of dominance in a turf war with rival gang Wakali Wao. The two are splinter groups of the same juvenile gang.
Police believe they split because of disagreements over the sharing of spoils.
“The information we have gathered indicates the youth were saying they were on a revenge mission. We know the only revenge one can talk about is for a suspect caught with drugs in Nyali,” Coast regional coordinator John Elungata said.
Elungata said the drug trafficker knows his fate is sealed and might have planned the attacks to make police ‘loosen a bit’.
He said the fight against drugs will be intensified.
“We have arrested about six people in connection with drugs and confiscated about 6kg of heroin and cocaine. That is a big loss and might precipitate such kind of attacks,” Elungata said.
The government had issued an ultimatum three years ago to the gang members to surrender.
Muslims for Human Rights chair Khelef Khalifa questioned the timing of the attack and blamed them on the decision by the government to move the clearing of goods from the Mombasa port to Nairobi.
We have arrested about six people in connection with drugs and confiscated about 6kg of heroin and cocaine. That is a big loss and might precipitate such kind of attacksCoast regional coordinator John Elungata
“Is it a message that these kinds of attacks will increase in Mombasa and the Coast because the government decided to transfer the port and port services to Nairobi?” Khalifa asked.
The incident came a few hours after a section of Coast MPs and civil society opposed the directive to force all imported cargo to be transported via the SGR and be cleared at the Nairobi Inland Container Depot.
Elungata said four people had been arrested and will be charged.
The ghost town that was Bamburi on Monday night was a complete contrast from the usual hubbub that greets one upon reaching the area, thanks to the criminal gang that attacked residents.
Police say in total, 11 people were injured. Seven have been discharged and four are still admitted at the emergency wing.
Coast General Emergency Chief Nurse Anthony Mogaka said the four are responding to treatment well and are now stable.
“It may take them about five days to recover,” Mogaka said.
The victims have been admitted with head, abdomen, face and hand injuries. Others have fractures.
Witnesses said the gang came from Kadzandani, Nyali constituency and escaped into Jitegee and Vikwatani areas in Kisauni subcounty.
The two subcounties are separated by the busy Kisauni-Bamburi, and Bamburi-Mtambo roads.
On the eve of Ramadhan this year, the gang attacked a shop in Mwandoni area, stole clothes and cash and stabbed several people before escaping.
Monday’s incident caught security apparatus unawares, causing panic among the agencies.
A source within the security organs told the Star that they had no intelligence about the attacks and that the matter is a serious security issue.
“When was the last time you saw the county commissioner go to the crime scene?” the source asked.
On Tuesday morning, a security baraza was hurriedly organised to address the residents at Chengoni area, a few metres from a known den where wasted drug addicts converge every evening to share drugs.
Political leaders led by Governor Hassan Joho condemned the attack.
“I urge security agents to move with speed to arrest the perpetrators of last night’s attacks,” Joho said in a statement.
Kisauni MP Ali Mbogo and his Nyali counterpart Mohammed Ali said it was time residents united and embraced community policing.
“Those responsible for these attacks will be swiftly brought to justice,” Mbogo said.
“It is extremely saddening that organised gangs in Mombasa are getting bolder each day,” Ali said.
He said lawlessness was slowly creeping back into Mombasa county.
As section of disgruntled Coast residents has in the past called for secession on grounds of socio-economic marginalisation.
The Mombasa Republican Council, the most vocal of the groups, upped its calls for secession in 2008, with a focus on land issues and economic frustration.
Until recently, street protests were the most common forms of political action on the coast.
But religious tensions have at times served as key flashpoints for violence, with rioting following the violent deaths of prominent Muslim clerics in the region.
Since 2012, there has been a wave of assassinations of Muslim businessmen, traders, clerics and activists.
These assassinations have led to further radicalisation with young people joining terror groups especially the al Shabaab in Somalia.
(edited by O. Owino)