Residents of Mpeketoni, the town in Lamu that was raided by gunmen on Sunday night, described the attackers as an organised group that took its time and was methodical.
The armed men had the time to take bags of rice, sugar, packets of spaghetti, maize flour, cooking oil, bottles of juice, soda and water from their victims’ shops.
They then set the shops on fire and destroyed most vehicles in the town — pick-ups, tractors and lorries.
They selected their victims, separating men from women and children. At one point, the Nation was told, an adolescent boy who had joined the men was ordered back to where his mother and sisters were standing.
Most of those who saw the attackers said they were dressed in military fatigue, with black scarves around their heads covering their faces such that only the eyes could be seen.
They are also reported to have had a coordinator with a communication radio, while one man recorded videos as they attacked.
In the course of the massacre, they drove down the roads with headlights off and caught their victims by surprise, shooting at men on motorcycles and those who left their houses to see what was happening.
Mr Daniel Gathuru, who sells electrical accessories and is an agent for two banks, told the Nation Tuesday that some of the attackers arrived in two matatus, a lorry and others on foot.
They were all armed, he said, and some carried vuvuzelas and a black flag with white writings in Arabic.
Mr Gathuru’s shop is located on the ground floor of Mama Monica Guest House, a two-storey residential and commercial block. About eight men were stabbed and shot outside the building.
He said he first heard gunshots from a building located next to a petrol station - both of them were razed. But when he went in the opposite direction, he heard explosions and gunfire from Breeze View Hotel, which is in another part of the town.
Mr Gathuru said he noticed that the attackers were led by a tall, light-skinned man who was carrying a “big gun” which, from his description, could have been a bazooka, rocket-propelled grenade launcher or a flame thrower.
Ms Ann Gicheni, another survivor, showed the Nation her shop, where she took stock of sugar, spaghetti, maize flour, rice, cooking oil and juice that were carted away.