NAIROBI, Kenya (Reuters) - Eight Kenyan security officers were killed in two separate roadside bombings in eastern Kenya on Wednesday, senior officials said, and Somali Islamist militants claimed both attacks.
In Mandera, in the extreme northeast of Kenya, a governor’s convoy was blown up by what the Kenyan Red Cross said appeared to have been a landmine. The area is a frequent target of the Somali jihadist group al Shabaab.
“Unfortunately I lost five of my security officers including my personal bodyguard in an attack on my convoy,” Mandera Governor Ali Roba said in a Facebook post.
Al Shabaab claimed both that attack and an earlier one further south in Liboi, also close to the border.
There, three policemen were killed when their truck hit an improvised explosive device (IED), North Eastern regional commissioner Mohamud Ali Saleh told Reuters.
“All the dead officers are from one work station,” he said. “From past incidences, it is easy to see that even this one is the work of our enemy, al Shabaab. They plant these IEDs to target our security people.”
The Kenyan Red Cross tweeted that another eight officers had been wounded.
Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military operation spokesman, told Reuters: “This afternoon, we attacked the convoy of Ali Roba, Mandera county chief, with a roadside bomb. We killed five of his bodyguards and destroyed one car.”
He also claimed the Liboi attack for al Shabaab: “We destroyed the police car. Some died and others were injured.”
Garissa county, where the Liboi incident happened, has suffered several al Shabaab attacks in recent years, including an assault on a university in 2015 that killed 148 people.
Al Shabaab, which seeks to topple Somalia’s government and impose its own harsh interpretation of Sharia law, says it will continue to attack Kenya until Nairobi withdraws its troops from an African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia.
The police said on Tuesday they were on alert for an increase in violence after al Shabaab fighters were detected moving into Kenya in small groups.
Reporting by Joseph Akwiri in Mombasa, Humphrey Malalo in Nairobi and Feisal Omar in Mogadishu; Editing by Katharine Houreld