At least five Kenyan police officers were killed Wednesday in a roadside bomb blast in the town of Lamu near the border with Somalia.
The truck transporting officers “had about 10 administration police officers and the explosive that blew it up seemed to have been planted on the road they were using,” a senior regional official, who asked not to be named, said after the incident.
The militant group al-Shabab, which is based in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the attack.
“We killed eight Kenyan soldiers after we burnt their car with a roadside bomb near Lamu area,” said Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabab’s military operation spokesman, rejecting Kenya’s official account that those dead were police officers.
Kenya is among countries that have contributed troops to the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM).
The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militants have been seeking to overthrow the government in Somalia over the past years. They reject the presence of the Kenyan troops with AMISOM in Somalia.
The group stormed Kenya’s El-Adde base in southwestern Somalia recently. Kenya has been reluctant to give a final death toll from the assault, but al-Shabab says at least 100 Kenyan soldiers were killed.
The Wednesday roadside blast came as Kenya pulled out soldiers from some of its bases in El-Adde and Badhaadhe. Officials denied that they have ordered a full withdrawal of Kenyan forces from Somalia, saying Nairobi will remain committed to the fight against militants.
“There is a reason that took us to Somalia, which is to liberate and pacify those areas, and the mission is still on,” Kenyan army spokesman, David Obonyo, said.