NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Seven people were killed when gunmen attacked a bus at the Kenyan coast where previous attacks had left 87 people dead, the Kenya Red Cross said Saturday.
The attack Friday night came at an area called Corner Mbaya, which is 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the coastal town of Witu in Lamu county, the humanitarian group said. Two of those killed were security officials and five were civilians, the Red Cross said. Authorities believe many of the passengers in the 52-seater bus fled into a nearby forest.
Al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants from Somalia claimed responsibility for the attack.
"The attack was carried out in response to the Kenyan government's claim that all the areas that have recently been subject for attacks were secured after having deployed troops," the group said.
Al-Shabab said the attackers were sending a message to Kenya that they cannot stop the group's operations in coastal areas.
Al-Shabab has vowed to carry out attacks on Kenyan soil to avenge the presence of Kenyan troops fighting the militants in Somalia. In September, four al-Shabab gunmen attacked an upscale mall in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, killing 67 people.
The militant group has also claimed responsibility for previous attacks along the coast but the Kenyan government claims local political networks are responsible.
The recent attacks led the British government last week to expand the travel warnings for the Kenyan coast. British citizens have been asked avoid all but essential travel to Lamu county, Tana River county and Tana River itself.
Earlier travel advisories warned against travel to areas within 60 kilometers of the Kenya-Somali border, the Somali enclave known as Eastleigh in Nairobi and Mombasa island.
The government fears that tourism, a key pillar of the economy, will be affected negatively by the travel advisories issued by the U.S. and Britain following attacks.
Kenya's opposition, known as the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy is demanding the withdrawal of the country's troops from Somalia, saying the government is not serious about tackling al-Shabab.
Associated Press writer Abdi Guled contributed to this report from Mogadishu, Somalia