At least six people including a police reservist were killed when gunmen rained bullets on two buses in a gun attack on Friday in Mandera county, close to Kenyan border with Somalia, a regional official said.
Mandera County Commissioner Fredrick Shisia told Reuters the attack took place at 9:30am as the buses were traveling to Mandera town from the capital Nairobi.
Noting that the attack had happened on the road between Wargadud and Elwak, Shisia said several were injured during the attack.
The buses were being escorted by police officers who were onboard at the time of the attack.
North Eastern regional commander Mohamed Saleh said:
“The gunmen attacked as the buses negotiated a corner in the area and later escaped. We have deployed personnel to pursue them.”
He added that they suspect the group was also backed by local militia who are fighting for business reasons. Shisia said it was not yet clear who was behind the attack.
Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet said they had intensified operations in the area to capture those involved in the attack.
This is the latest attack in the area. Al-shabaab has carried out a series of attacks in Kenya, especially in this area, killing scores of civilians and security personnel.
Kenyan defence forces repelled an al-Shabaab attack in Lamu county days ago. Four militants were killed after a shootout, a Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) statement said on Tuesday morning.
Al-Shabaab Islamist militants have on a good number of occasions ambushed several buses in Mandera travelling to and from the capital, Nairobi, over the last two years.
The al-Shabaab attacks in the area tend to sieve out non-Muslims and murder them. The officials in Mandera, which borders Somalia where al-Shabaab is based, say the ban is to protect such people since tensions are high.
Two weeks ago, five police officers were killed in an attack by attackers who used grenades and guns.
Mandera county officials had on Thursday banned visitors in the north-eastern Kenyan county to quit using long-distance buses to fend off Islamist militant group al-Shabaab. The ban will remain in place in the mainly Muslim area until after Ramadan.
The United States on Thursday cautioned its nationals against travelling to areas close to Kenya’s border with Somalia to avoid possible attacks by Somali militant group al-Shabaab.