A gunfight erupted late Sunday in the Kenyan coastal settlement of Mpeketoni, officials said, with local media quoting a witness as saying that three people were killed.
Kenyan Army spokesman Emmanuel Chirchir said the Somali Islamist militant group al—Shabaab was suspected.
“Shooting is still going on, with the attackers shouting ‘Allahu akbar’,” The Standard newspaper quoted a witness as saying.
Mpeketoni is about 50 kilometres inland from the island of Lamu, a popular tourist resort.
Lamu County Commissioner Steven Ikua confirmed the incident to dpa, but said he did not have details on casualties.
“Two Nissan matatus (minibuses) with unknown occupants entered Mpeketoni and started shooting people in and around town,” Kenya’s Interior Ministry tweeted.
Daily Nation newspaper reported that the gunmen attacked a police station, two hotels and a petrol station.
Residents were fleeing the area as police continued to battle the attackers, Daily Nation said.
A Kenyan Red Cross representative in Lamu told DPA the organization could not access the town because of ongoing shooting and darkness.
Chirchir said surveillance aircraft had been launched to survey the area.
Mpeketoni is a small town rarely visited by tourists, though it is along the only road to Lamu, which most visitors access by plane.
Earlier this week, the British High Commission in Kenya evacuated its consulate in Mombasa, the main coastal town, due to insecurity.
Rising terrorist attacks and violent crime have scared many tourists from visiting Kenya’s coast.