December 17, 2015 / 10:35 AM / 2 years ago

Somali militants say behind attack in northern Kenya

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - The Somali Islamist group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for an attack in northern Kenya’s Lamu County which left two people dead, the militants and police said on Thursday.

The attack took place on Wednesday at 6 p.m. (1500 GMT) in Mkunumbi, near Mpeketoni, according to Francis Wanjohi, regional Kenyan police commander. The area was the scene of several Islamist attacks last year.

Wanjohi said about 15 militants attacked a lorry and a police truck driving behind it. They killed two civilians in the lorry and wounded a police officer driving the police truck, who escaped by hiding in the bushes.

The gunmen drove off with the police truck, lorry and the policeman’s rifle, Wanjohi said.

Al Shabaab said the attack was the fifth in the last 10 days.

“Kenya misinformed its people by saying that it eliminated al Shabaab from Kenya,” Sheik Abdiasis Abu Musab, the group’s military operations spokesman, told Reuters.

Al Shabaab has killed hundreds of people in Kenya over the past few years, staging mass attacks such as the 2013 assault on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall, where 67 people died, and the April raid on Garissa University, where nearly 150 were killed.

Since the Garissa raid, al Shabaab has carried out many smaller attacks along the northern coast before retreating to hideouts in Boni forest, a large reserve that is also a sanctuary for elephants.

Kenya’s military has launched several offensives to flush out the militants, who say the attacks are punishment for Kenyan soldiers fighting the group as part of an African Union peacekeeping force.

Additional reporting by Joseph Akwiri in Mombasa; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Larry King

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