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Three Kenyan Soldiers Killed in Suspected Al-Shabab Attack

Lamu County, Kenya
Lamu County, Kenya

Three Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) soldiers were killed, and more than 10 others injured when their vehicle ran over an improvised explosive device Sunday in coastal Lamu County. The incident comes a few days after eight KDF soldiers were killed in a similar attack in Garissa County in Kenya’s northeast.

Security officials in Kenya suspect that al-Shabab militants were behind the IED attack Sunday along the Pandaguo route, near the vast Boni forest.

The KDF soldiers had been sent to rescue police officers who were conducting routine patrols when their own vehicle ran over an explosive. Over a dozen KDF and police were injured in that attack.

Security officials declined to respond to VOA’s request for a comment.

Nairobi-based security analyst Peter Tuya said the increase in attacks is al-Shabab's response to Kenya’s plan to official reopen the border with Somalia.

“The objective here is to make sure the government does not open up those areas for development,” said security analyst Peter Tuya, “because it will be cutting out the supply line to them, because for a long time they have been using the issue of marginalization to recruit people to their networks.”

The incident comes few days an IED explosion killed eight KDF soldiers in Garissa County in Kenya’s northeast. Al-Shabab is suspected in that attack as well.

Tuya told VOA via phone that the militant group is targeting security officers to instill fear and force the public to join them.

“As they are targeting the security personnel, they want to create fear in the minds of the public, that … ‘If we have the capacity to target the security personnel, what about you?’” Tuya said. “So that they create the environment of fear and make the people there helpless and to subscribe to their ideology.”

The attacks come at a time when Kenya’s Security Minister Kithure Kindiki made a visit to Lamu and met with area leaders and top security operatives.

Speaking to journalists, Kindiki assured Kenyans that they will flush out terrorists from the region.

“We will make sure that we get and bring down the last terrorist,” Kindiki said.

Kenya closed the crossing points along its border with Somalia more than a decade ago but announced the crossings will reopen after talks with Somali officials last month.

The border points to be reopened include the Lamu, Garissa and Mandera border crossings.

Al-Shabab has carried out frequent attacks in Kenya since the government began contributing troops to the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia in 2011.