At least five Kenyan security personnel were killed Wednesday after an improvised explosive device bomb hit their vehicle in coastal Lamu County, security sources say.
The explosion occurred as the officers traveled on a road between Baure and Milimani in Lamu East, officials said.
James Olesirian, director of security operations in the Boni forest, an area used by militants to launch attacks in Lamu, confirmed the incident to VOA’s Somali Service.
“Today at about 8:30 a.m. there was a security incident between Baure and Milimani within Lamu County,” he said. “A police motor vehicle ran over an IED while travelling on the Kiunga Hindi Road, several officers injured.”
Other security sources told VOA Somali there were seven rural border patrol unit (RBPU) officers on board the vehicle, five of whom were killed. Two others are said to be missing.
The al-Shabab militant group claimed responsibility for the attack and said seven Kenyan police were killed.
Al-Shabab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Mus’ab told the group’s radio broadcasters that they have increased attacks against Kenya.
A week ago, eight Kenyan security officers were killed in two separate roadside explosions in the country’s northeast. Five were killed when an IED hit a convoy of vehicles escorting the governor of Mandera County, Ali Roba, who was campaigning in an area near the border with Somalia.
Three police officers were killed by another IED blast the same day while traveling between Liboi and Kulan towns in Kenya’s Garissa County.
In Somalia, security agencies in the Puntland region say they have arrested two suspects and seized explosives and other materials at a checkpoint near the town of Bosaso.
Security officials said they found six large explosive devices that were hidden in a vegetable truck.
Police Commander Colonel Abdihakim Yusuf Hussein said officers also found grenades, antennas, chargers, mobile phones, vehicle registration plates and perfumes.
“They prepared and intended to plant these devices in three different cars,” Hussein said.
He told his security forces to be extremely vigilant, noting that the militants are using unusual tactics to hide the explosives.
“You have to be very alert and search these vehicles, scan the stomach of the goats and sheep,” he said.
Bosaso was the target of a suicide explosion on May 23 in which five people were killed and seven others were wounded. Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for that attack.
Security sources say early indications show the explosive devices seized today belong to al-Shabab.
On Tuesday, two civilians were killed after their vehicle ran over an IED in Galgala highland, an area where Puntland is fighting al-Shabab. Also today, three government soldiers were wounded after an IED explosion targeted their vehicle in Weydow Area, an outskirt of Mogadishu.