A terrorist attack on a Kenyan casino by a militant group called the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) has left eight dead. Six of the victims were MRC members, while two were members of the police services that responded to the attack to defend the casino and its patrons. There were no reported civilian casualties (the casino is mostly frequented by tourists), though there are reports that some did suffer injuries in the attack.
Group Wants Islamic State
The attack occurred at 3am in the coastal town of Malindi in Kenya, and was launched by approximately 50 members of the banned MRC, a group seeking to create their own Islamic state within Kenya. The attackers stormed the casino armed with machetes and guns in what was suspected as a large-scale robbery attempt to fund their activities, as opposed to any form of statement.
Security forces and police met them with guns blazing, killing six of the attackers and driving the rest of them off. Two policemen were killed in the exchange. A vast operation is now being launched to find and capture those involved in the attack who managed to flee the scene; they are suspected to be hiding out in forests around the region.
The MRC has not released a statement regarding the attack and could not be reached for comment; not entirely surprising given that the group’s spokesman was arrested just last week on charges that he was involved in a March 4th attack that left 15 people dead.
The group has been involved in several attacks along Kenya’s coastal region in recent weeks, and addressing the persistent threat posed by the group is seen as a key challenge for the new Kenyan president. The group is seeking to establish their own country over long-held land disputes, and what they view as economic marginalization of the region by the central government.
The attack comes at a bad time for the Kenyan tourism industry and Malindi itself, one of the most prominent tourism destinations in the country. The city is soon to host a major cultural festival that it’s hoped will draw thousands of tourists from Kenya and other countries to the city.