Police in Kwale in the coastal region of Kenya have found a haul of weapons from the gunmen suspected of an attack in September on a local church. The find coincided with government warnings that Al-Shabaab militants might be planning attacks in the area during the Christmas season.
Weapons and ammunition were found together with shoes and clothing by police during a routine patrol on Tuesday (19 December). Kwale police officer Joseph Chebusit said they suspect that one of the guns was stolen from officers killed at the Anglican church in nearby Ukunda. Shortly after the Ukunda incident, regional police boss Larry Kieng confirmed that the gunmen had taken two firearms belonging to the men killed during the attack.
Chebusit said the police hoped to identify the gang from their belongings, but warned that “they pose a danger to the locals” while they are free.
Security services in Lamu County – 200 miles along the coast from Kwale – have warned residents to be on the lookout and report any suspicious characters. They said militants from Jaysh Ayman, an Islamist insurgency group with ties to Al-Shabaab, had been seen in Garissa, close to the border with Somalia.
Al-Shabaab militants have claimed many of the attacks on Christians living in Kenya’s coastal area. In 2015 they singled out and killed 148 Christian students during an assault on Garissa University. It was the deadliest attack in Kenya since the 1998 US embassy bombing. More recently, in August 2017, three Christians in Lamu County were hacked to death by Al-Shabaab militants because they refused to recite the Shahada (Islamic prayer of faith).