At least eight Kenyan police officers were killed on Saturday, June 15 when their vehicle was struck by an IED while on patrol in Wajir County near the border with Somalia, police sources said.
Separately, an Al-Shabaab car bomb in Somalia capital Mogadishu killed eight people, hours after militia executed nine civilians in retribution for Al-Shabaab killing a police officer.
Kenya Police Inspector General Hilary Mutyambai said a Land Cruiser with 11 police on board “was hit by an improvised explosive device.”
He did not give a toll, but a regional police source told AFP: “we lost eight police officers in this attack.”
Mutyambai said the police had been on patrol between Khorof-Harar and Konton in Wajir county on the border between Kenya and Somalia.
Unnamed Kenyan officials earlier said those killed were among a group of officers who were pursuing gunmen who had kidnapped three police reservists in Konton centre in Wajir East, Al Jazeera reported. Those sources said at least 10 police officers had been killed in the explosion.
Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, saying they had temporarily taken control of Khorof Harar village.
Last June, eight Kenyan police were killed in a roadside bomb attack in the same region.
Wajir county and its neighbours Mandera and Garissa are frequently targeted by Al-Shabaab, notably security personnel deployed to monitor the frontier.
The Kenyan army has for years been present in the area in a bid to disrupt attacks by al-Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab which has been fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu for over a decade.
The group were pushed out of Somalia’s capital in 2011 by AMISOM, the 22,000-strong African Union Mission in Somalia, and lost most of their strongholds, but the group still controls vast rural areas and remain the key threat to peace in Somalia. The group is fighting to overthrow the internationally backed government in Somalia, but has also carried out attacks in neighboring Kenya, which has deployed troops to AMISOM.
Car bomb kills eight in Mogadishu
Meanwhile, a car bomb exploded near the Somalia parliament on Saturday, killing eight people, emergency workers said, hours after militia executed nine civilians from a clan with suspected links to al-Shabaab.
“We have confirmed eight people killed and 16 others wounded in the blast,” the private Aamin Ambulance service said.
A second blast on a key road leading to the airport of the Somali capital Mogadishu did not cause any casualties.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attacks saying they were “they were targeting two checkpoints, one of them along the airport road and (the other) along the road that leads to house of legislators.”
According to security sources the second explosives-laden car a Toyota Noah, was spotted by security forces at a checkpoint. They opened fire and killed a man in the car, which then exploded.
Nine killed in revenge attack
Earlier Saturday, police said local militia executed nine civilians after Al-Shabaab killed a police officer.
The revenge attack Friday just outside Galkayo – one of the most developed cities in the centre of the country – targeted the Rahanweyn clan, several of whose members are suspected to be Shabaab fighters.
“This was a horrible incident, a gruesome killing against nine unarmed innocent civilians in southern Galkayo. All of the civilians belong to one clan and the gunmen shot them dead in one location a few minutes after suspected Shabaab gunmen killed” a policeman, said local police official Mohamed Abdirahman.
“This is an unacceptable act and we will bring those perpetrators to justice,” said Hussein Dini, a traditional elder.
“Their killing cannot be justified. It seems that the merciless gunmen were retaliating for the security official who they believe was killed by Al-Shabaab gunmen belonging to the clan of the victims.”
Witnesses told local media the victims were rounded up from the streets or their homes and shot dead on the outskirts of Galkayo.
Local officials have in the past blamed the Rahanweyn clan for fomenting instability in the region and supplying fighters to Al-Shabaab.
The militia accused of staging the revenge attack are from the Saad Habargidir, a sub-clan of the Hawiye group which is dominant in the southern part of the city.
Galkayo, about 600 km (380 miles) north of Mogadishu, straddles the frontier with the self-proclaimed autonomous regions of Puntland and Galmudug.
The city has been the scene of violent clashes between forces of the two regions in recent years and has also witnessed violence between the two rival clans occupying its northern and southern districts.
With reporting from AFP