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Al-Shabab Attacks Kenyan Police Near Somali Border

Kenyan officials say al-Shabab militants attacked a group of police officers late Monday in the northeast of the country near the border with Somalia.

Officials say one police officer was killed and at least four others were injured when suspected al-Shabab gunmen attacked a police patrol in the areas of Fafi and Yumbis in Garissa County.

Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka told VOA the attack began when a police vehicle hit a land mine.

“Some other officers came to rescue both the vehicle and the officers who were there and then there was an ambush by the militants,” said Njoka.

In the same county last month the Islamist militants killed 148 people, mostly students, in a day-long assault on a local university.

As recently as last week, al-Shabab members were reportedly preaching to local residents in the same village where Monday's attack took place.

“It's more or less the same area where there had been some murmurs of al-Shabab militants being sighted, it's within the same locality, it's very close to the Somali border,” said Njoka.

Al-Shabab claimed to have killed more than 20 police officers in the attack, as reported by local media.

Speaking to VOA by phone Tuesday, Garissa County Commissioner James Kianda confirmed that one officer had died from injuries. He denied previous reports that any other officers were missing.

“We do not have any officer who is missing, all the officers have been accounted for as we speak,” he said, adding that some vehicles were damaged in the incident and that police are pursuing the attackers.

Improving security

The Kenyan government has promised to boost security in the volatile northeastern region, particularly after the Garissa University College massacre.

Interior spokesman Njoka said authorities have put more forces on the ground, but adds that improving security is a long-term project.

“This kind of militant, they keep shifting, they keep moving and the terrain also, as you might be aware, is a very hostile terrain in terms of communication. So, boosting security also involves investing in infrastructure which is not something that happens overnight,” said Njoka.

Al-Shabab has vowed to continue attacks across the border in retaliation for Kenya's military operations in southern Somalia. Kenya sent troops to Somalia four years ago to help the African Union combat al-Shabab.