Kenya deaths as 'MRC' attacks Malindi casino

A beach in Mombasa - September 2012
Image caption Kenya's beaches are a key draw for the country's tourism industry

At least seven people have been killed in a Kenyan coastal town during a raid on a casino by a machete-wielding gang, police say.

Police intervened, shooting dead six of the attackers, officials said. At least one officer also died.

The 50-strong gang struck in Malindi, some 120km (75 miles) north of Mombasa, early on Thursday, police said.

A spokesman linked the attackers to the Mombasa Republic Council (MRC), an outlawed separatist group.

"A gang of 50 MRC suspects armed with machetes and other crude weapons raided a casino in Malindi and started attacking patrons before police were called," Ambrose Munyasia told Reuters news agency.

The attack was thought to have happened at about 02:00 local time (2300 GMT, Wednesday).

There was no immediate confirmation about whether any casino guests were hurt.

The MRC says it is campaigning on behalf of the "oppressed" people of Kenya's coastal region, many of whom are Muslims who say they face discrimination.

"The objective of our movement is to lift the coastal people from the neo-colonialism of the government of Kenya," Randu Ruwa, the MRC's secretary general, told the BBC before the elections earlier this month.

The group was blamed for a series of attacks before the election, in which some 12 people were killed.

Last week a spokesman for the group was arrested on suspicion of links to the attacks.

There was no statement from the MRC after Thursday's attack.

Mombasa is a popular hub for tourism in Kenya, with its Indian Ocean coastline drawing visitors from around the world to a string of luxury resorts.

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