Kenya rejects al-Shabab police killings claim

Official says only one officer died in ambush after Somali armed group said it killed 25 in village north of Garissa.

Kenya has rejected claims by the Somalia-based al-Shabab group that it ambushed and killed more than 25 Kenyan police officers in the country’s northeast.

Al-Shabab has carried out several attacks in Kenya in retaliation over Kenya’s military involvement in Somalia.

“The number of casualty we have is just one,” Mwenda Njoka, Kenyan interior ministry spokesperson, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

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“It is just a propaganda. We have accounted for all the officers who were in that operation.”

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Al-Shabab claimed through a military spokesperson on Tuesday that it killed the police officers in the village of Yumbis, 70km north of Garissa.

Reuters news agency cited Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, the spokesperson, as saying that 20 officers were killed when al-Shabab fighters ambushed them on Monday night, while more officers were killed when a police vehicle hit a landmine planted by the fighters.

“We took all their weapons. There were some Kenyan forces that escaped in the course of the ambush fighting,” he said, adding that five police vehcles had been burnt.

Police patrolling between Garissa and the Dadaab refugee camp hit an improvised explosive device, or IED; and a second group of officers reacting to a distress call from the first attack then came under fire.

Some of the survivors fled the scene and arrived in a nearby refugee camp, our correspondent added.

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Somalia has been unstable since the collapse of Siad Barre’s government in 1991, and the country’s new government is being supported by the 22,000-strong African Union force.

Al-Shabab carried out its deadliest attack in Kenya earlier this year, when its fighters massacred 148 people in a day-long siege of a university in Garissa.

The attack on the university was the deadliest on Kenyan soil since the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi, which killed more than 200 people.

After the Garissa attack, al-Shabab warned of a “long, gruesome war” unless Kenya withdraws its troops from Somalia, as well as warning the government in Mogadishu it would continue to attack them on home soil.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies