Johannesburg – Five people have been injured and an Italian student volunteer kidnapped in a suspected al-Shabaab attack overnight on a shopping centre at Chakama in Kenya’s Kilifi County, the Daily Nation reported on Wednesday morning.
On Tuesday night about 80 heavily armed men raided the market in Makongeni Sub Location, about 80 kilometres west of Malindi town, before attacking the village in Galana Kulalu.
The gunmen, whom police described as bandits, then started shooting in the air before kidnapping the 23-year-old Italian woman who works as a volunteer in the area.
The woman, who volunteers for non-governmental organisation Africa Milele Onlus, which helps raise literacy and education levels in Chakama, was one of a group of Italians who share a rented house.
By the time police arrived at the scene the gunmen had already crossed River Galana as witnesses heard her screaming for help.
Those injured by the gunmen were taken to Malindi Sub County Hospital where two are in a critical condition. The injured include a woman, a young man and three minors aged 16,12 and 10 years.
The area of the attack, Galana Kulalu, is near Tana River and Garissa where al-Shabaab elements roam.
Regional police commander Noah Mwivanda said on Wednesday morning that more police units are heading to the scene.
Five years after al-Shabaab militants burst into a luxury shopping mall in Kenya's capital Nairobi, hurling grenades and starting a days-long siege that left 67 people dead, analysts say the Somalia-based extremist group has been pushed down Africa's east coast as far as Mozambique as its regional threat expands.
Other major attacks since Westgate in the region, often targeting Christians, have included massacres of bus passengers and the assault on Garissa University in 2015 that left 147 people dead.
Hundreds of schools near the Somali border have also been forced to shut down after teachers and students fled following a number of deadly attacks by al-Shabaab targeting non-Muslim teachers in Kenya.
At least 224 primary schools and 42 secondary schools in Wajir County can no longer function after non-local teachers fled. The exodus was caused by the February 16 al-Shabaab attack on a primary school in which two non-Muslim teachers were killed.
African News Agency (ANA)