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Coast police hold suspects planning Mombasa New Year attack

MOMBASA (Xinhua) -- Kenyan police said Monday they have arrested 14 suspected members of a criminal gang that planned to carry out attacks during New Year celebrations in Mombasa.

Local police commander Willy Simba said 12 machetes and knives were seized from the suspects who were arrested in the coastal city.

"We had received intelligence reports that some members of a criminal gang were planning to cause mayhem targeting revelers who had converged to celebrate the New Year," Simba said.

According to the police, most of the 14 suspects are aged between 15 and 22 years.

Simba said they suspected the arrested were members of a gang named Watalia, which was among 90 criminal gangs listed by the government recently.

During the Christmas eve, three police officers were injured as a gang armed with machetes and poisoned arrows raided a police camp in the coastal town of Kwale.

Police killed one of the eight attackers and prevented them from forcing their way into the camp.

Kwale County Commissioner Kutswa Olaka said the gang members had not been identified but that their aim might have been to steal guns.

Mombasa County Commissioner Evans Achoki said police had intensified patrols in Mombasa during the festive season, with sea and aerial patrols in place.

"We had no serious cases of insecurity in Mombasa but urge both security and public must remain vigilant.

"Terrorism still remains a threat in the region," said Achoki.



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