Nairobi — The death toll following the attack in Mpeketoni, Lamu rose to 48 on Monday morning after more bodies were discovered. Journalists and police officers on the ground said they had counted 48 bodies at the local mortuary on Monday morning.
"The number of bodies taken to the mortuary is 47, while one has died in hospital," a police officer said, as the search for more bodies continued. Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo described the attack as heinous, saying "It is an atrocity we would not want to see repeated anywhere else." Kimaiyo said. One of the dead is a police officer.
It is understood the officer had left his vehicle at the Mpeketoni Police Station and went to the town centre to have dinner when he was caught in the crossfire. "We are pursuing them; we have intensified security in the town," Kimaiyo said, blaming Al Shabaab attackers for the incident.
No suspect had been arrested by Monday morning. The Kenya Red Cross said they had dispatched their volunteers to offer assistance to the affected families.
According to police, the bodies were found sprawled on the ground in the town, while others were found in houses. Police believe most of them were shot and bled to death in their houses as they could not venture out to seek medical assistance after the gunfire raged for more than four hours.
The attack occurred on Sunday night when eight gunmen hijacked two vans at Witu and commandeered the driver to Mpeketoni where they opened fire indiscriminately at anyone they came across.
It is believed they were joined by their accomplices who were already in the town because witnesses said they saw more than 50 attackers.
Areas affected were Mpeketoni Police station, two hotels, a bank and a fuel station-with some facilities burnt down.
A police officer quoting witnesses said some of the gunmen were speaking in Somali as they moved from shop to shop and house to house shooting people.
"It was unbelievable... police officers were overwhelmed because the attackers were heavily armed," one police officer who survived after hiding under a vehicle said, "the matter was made worse by darkness."
Kenya has suffered a series of terror attacks since 2011 when the government deployed its military to pursue Al Shabaab militants inside Somalia.
In recent weeks, there have been heightened threats from the militant group, leading to several travel advisories from European countries.
The United Kingdom last week closed its consulate in Mombasa for fear of attacks.