The unidentified men, armed with AK-47 rifles, attacked the town of Chakama in the coastal region of Kilifi and injured five people before abducting a 23-year old Italian woman who works for an NGO, police said.
Kenya said on Wednesday gunmen kidnapped an Italian volunteer in the coastal region of Kilifi during an attack in which five people were wounded, the first time a foreigner has been abducted in the East African country in several years.
"The gang ... abducted an Italian lady aged 23 years who is a volunteer of Africa Milele Onlus, an NGO operating in the area," the National Police Service said on Twitter.
The Gang then abducted an Italian lady aged 23 years who is a volunteer of Africa Milele Onlus, an NGO operating in the area.— National Police Service-Kenya (@NPSOfficial_KE) November 21, 2018
All the injured persons were taken to hospital and contingents of police officers were deployed to track down the criminals. 4/6
The wounded, who were all under the age of 25, were taken to hospital and officers were pursuing the attackers, police said.
The men, armed with AK-47 rifles, attacked the town of Chakama on Tuesday evening, police said. The town is west of Malindi, a major tourism destination on the coast.
There was no immediate comment from the Italian government.
The National Police Service wishes to inform the public that last evening at about 8pm, a gang of men armed with AK 47 rifles attacked Chakama Trading centre in Chakama, Makongeni sub location in Kilifi county, about 80 kilometres west of Malindi town. 1/6— National Police Service-Kenya (@NPSOfficial_KE) November 21, 2018
Police did not say if the gunmen were suspect militants from the Al Shabaab group based in neighbouring Somalia that has launched deadly attacks in Kenya for years, including the 2013 attack on a shopping mall in the capital, Nairobi, in which nearly 70 people were killed.
"Neither the reasons for the attack nor the identity of the attackers have been established," police said.
However, a witness told Reuters the gunmen appeared to be of Somali origin.
"The attackers had clothes of Somali origin ... they spoke in Somali," Chad Joshua Kazungu, who saw the gunmen.
An unidentified witness told Kenyan TV channel KTN News: "The European lady got out of her room, instead of lying on the ground, to enquire what was going on. One of the attackers then slapped her."
"Their aim was to get money but they took off with her to the river and, before leaving the village, they started shooting in the air and they shot one woman and four boys," the witness said.
The al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab that aims to topple Somalia's foreign-backed government have intensified attacks in Kenya since it sent troops into Somalia in 2011.
Suspected Shabaab militants have launched several attacks in recent months in which Kenyan soldiers have been killed but those attacks have all taken place in Lamu County, which is north of Kilifi and borders Somalia. The group has beheaded people in more than one of those attacks in Lamu County.
The town of Chakama in Kilifi County where the attack occurred is nearly 300 km southwest of the Kenya-Somalia border.