During five weeks between mid-June through July 2014, armed gunmen who in most cases claimed to be part of the Somalia-based armed Islamist group Al-Shabaab, attacked a passenger bus and at least eight villages in the Kenyan coastal counties of Lamu and Tana River. The attackers killed 87 people including four security officers, and destroyed approximately 30 buildings and 50 vehicles.
Kenyan security forces were slow to respond to the attacks, leaving villages unprotected and when they eventually responded, their actions were often discriminatory, beating, arbitrarily detaining and stealing personal property from Muslim and ethnic Somalis in the two counties. A year later, despite numerous law enforcement operations along the coast, hundreds have been arrested and mistreated, only to have charges dropped for lack of evidence and no one has been held responsible for the attacks.
This report, an outcome of a 10-day research mission in Lamu and Tana River counties by Human Rights Watch and the Kenya Human Rights Commission, and follow-up research in Nairobi, documents the initial attacks and the Kenyan government’s response, including abusive operations by security forces in the aftermath of the attacks.