60 people were killed in Sunday night's attack on the small coastal town of Mpeketoni
White man speaking 'fluent British English' led al-Shabaab attack in Kenya that left 60 dead, witnesses claim

A white man speaking "fluent British English" led suspected al-Shabaab commandos who ransacked towns in northern Kenya leaving 60 people dead, witnesses have said.

Several people in Mpeketoni, which was attacked by as many as 40 Islamist gunmen on Sunday, told The Telegraph that the gang's leader was pale-skinned and spoke English.

One of the witnesses is a primary schoolteacher who speaks good English, unlike many people in the remote corner of Kenya near the Lamu archipelago that earlier this week became the country's latest terror target.

"I saw a white man who was speaking in fluent British English commanding the rest of the attackers," said Mary Gachoki, who lives in Mpeketoni.

Another woman, who did not want to be named for fear of al-Shabaab reprisals, said: "There was a white man among them, he was commanding them and was shouting now and then.

"I saw him ordering them to carry out the attacks, he could be heard speaking frequently and at one point he spoke in Arabic but most of the time in English," she said.

James Mwangi, another witness, was talking with a friend when he heard the first gunshots.

"I saw a group of armed man standing then dividing themselves into groups, one went to the police station, one towards the town centre to attack the banks and businesses," he said.

"All were commanded by someone who was white or an Arab," he said.

The claims echoed similar allegations made during the Westgate terror massacre in a Nairobi shopping centre last September, when witnesses said they saw a white woman among the attackers.

This prompted suggestions that Samantha Lewthwaite, the world's most wanted woman who is said to be living in al-Shabaab territory in Somalia, was involved.

CCTV footage has since shown these reports were false.

The larger of the two most recent raids happened on Sunday night, when gunmen took control of Mpeketoni town and went door-to-door asking people if they were Muslims. They executed those who were not. Sixty people died.

There were further clashes on Monday night, when as many as 15 more people were killed. So far, no one has been arrested.

Kenya's president, Uhuru Kenyatta, shocked many when he claimed the raids were the work of local politicians trying to stir up ethnic hatred against his Kikuyu tribe, and not al-Shabaab.

This was despite the fact that the Somalia-based al-Qaeda army had already claimed responsibility.

Benson Maisori, the region's deputy commissioner, denied that a white man had led the raid and said a German man who lives with his Kenyan wife in Mpeketoni may have been mistaken as one of the attackers.