Al-Shabab attack on Kenyan town Mandera kills 12

Aftermath of the attack

Image caption

Those killed were staying in this guest house

At least 12 people have been killed in an attack in Kenya carried out by Somalia-based militant Islamist group al-Shabab.

Police in the Kenyan border town of Mandera said the attackers used explosives during the overnight attack.

The target was a guesthouse hosting members of a theatre group who were in the town for performances in schools.

It is the latest in a spate of deadly attacks targeting Christians in the mainly Muslim region.

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Reports say that the theatre group was composed of university students who had travelled to the north-eastern town to perform plays in local schools.

At least six of the members are yet to be accounted for, while four are in hospital.

The militants have claimed the attack in an affiliated radio station saying that it launched an attack in Mandera killing “15 Kenyans”.

Earlier this month, al-Shabab militants killed six people in an attack the group said was aimed at forcing Christians out of the area.

Analysis: Abdullahi Abdi, BBC Somali service, Kenya

Mandera borders Somalia, making it vulnerable to attacks from militants based there. The militants usually cross the porous border, carrying out deadly attacks on civilians and security agents before fleeing back.

Muslims in the north east increasingly see al-Shabab as a threat to their own interests and are making a concerted effort to improve relations with Christians living there.

Many of the Christians are skilled workers from other parts of Kenya, making a vital contribution to hospitals and schools. The north east is one of Kenya’s poorest areas and, if they are driven out, public services will worsen.

Al-Shabab, based in Somalia, is affiliated to al-Qaeda.

The group has been at war with Kenya ever since Kenyan forces entered Somalia in October 2011 in an effort to crush them.

Kenyan troops are now part of the African Union mission in Somalia.

The militants have lost control of most Somali towns and cities in recent years but still control rural areas in southern and central Somalia.

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