Eight Kenyan police officers were killed when their vehicle was destroyed by an improvised explosive device in a suspected attack by Somalia-based rebel group al-Shabab, police said.
The incident took place on Tuesday in Garissa county in eastern Kenya, a region on the border with Somalia, where al-Shabab has been waging a bloody rebellion against the fragile government in Mogadishu for more than 15 years.
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“We lost eight police officers in this attack,” North Eastern Regional Commissioner John Otieno said. “We suspect the work of al-Shabab who are now targeting security forces and passenger vehicles.”
The attack came only days after Ethiopia said it foiled a suicide attack by the group in the border town of Dollo.
Al-Shabab, which has been linked to al-Qaeda, has been waging an armed rebellion against Somalia’s central government for about 15 years.
Kenya first sent troops into Somalia in 2011 to combat the group and is now a major contributor of troops to an African Union (AU) military operation against the group.
However, it has suffered a string of retaliatory assaults, including a bloody siege at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi in 2013 that cost 67 lives and an attack on Garissa University in 2015 that killed 148 people.
In Somalia itself, al-Shabab has continued to wage deadly attacks despite a major offensive launched last August by pro-government forces, backed by the AU force known as ATMIS.
ATMIS, which has 22,000 troops, has been assisting Somalia’s federal government in its war against al-Shabab since 2022 when it replaced the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
In one of the worst recent attacks, 54 Ugandan peacekeepers were killed when al-Shabab fighters stormed an AU base in Somalia on May 26, according to Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni.
And on Saturday, Somali police said six civilians were killed in a six-hour siege by the fighters at a beachside hotel in Mogadishu.