Kenya: Gunmen open fire at mosque near Somalia border

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Dadaab refugee in Kenya - April 2011Image source, AFP
Image caption,
North-east Kenya is an arid area and home to the world's largest refugee camp

Seven people have been shot dead in an attack on a mosque in a village in north-eastern Kenya near the border with Somalia, officials have said.

Villagers told the BBC that 10 gunmen opened fire as people were leaving the mosque after early morning prayers.

Five men were killed and then two women who heard shots and came to investigate were also shot dead.

The attack comes less than two weeks before elections in a region where security is a problem.

'Indiscriminate shooting'

Residents of Malaley 1 village told the BBC nothing was stolen and the gunmen, armed with AK-47 rifles, then fled.

Garissa county commissioner Maalim Mohammed told the AFP news agency that two people were also wounded in the shooting.

"Heavily armed men stormed a mosque and shot at people indiscriminately," he said.

"The two women had responded to the screams from the mosque when they were shot."

The village is about 45km (28 miles) north-east of Dadaab refugee camp, which houses some 500,000 people who have fled years of conflict and drought in Somalia.

In the past year, the region has also been prone to attacks blamed on al-Qaeda-aligned Islamist militants in Somalia.

The Somali al-Shabab group vowed to take revenge when Kenya sent troops into Somalia in October 2011 to help the UN-backed government seize territory from the militants.

Banditry is also a problem in the arid and sparsely populated area.

The BBC's Bashkas Jugsodaay in Garissa, the region's main town, says tensions are also running high because of the upcoming polls - the first general election since the disputed election of December 2007.

More than 1,000 people died in the violence following that vote and 300,000 people fled their homes.

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