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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Police officer killed, two injured in 'al-Shabab' North Coast attack

LAMU (Xinhua) -- At least one police officer was killed and two others sustained serious injuries while another three are missing after a vehicle they were travelling in was ambushed by al-Shabab militants in the coastal Lamu county on Thursday, police said.

Coast Regional Police Commander Noah Mwivanda confirmed the incident in Milihoi area, which paralyzed transport in the region.

There were six police officers in the vehicle, he said.

Mwivanda said Somali militants ambushed the police officers who were returning to their camp in Mpeketoni after regular patrols in al-Shabab-prone areas.

He said the ambush prompted a fierce gunfight with insurgents, who later vanished into the forest.

"Our officers have been injured and might need referrals," he told Xinhua by phone.

The police commander said two officers have been hospitalized while the search for the other three is ongoing.

A Kenya Red Cross official who requested anonymity said that the attack has paralyzed operations along Garsen-Lamu Road.

All public service vehicles from Mombasa to Lamu are stuck at Mkunubi area while commuter buses from Lamu have been barred from leaving.

Hundreds of passengers were stranded on the road as security forces engage the militants in heavy shootout.

Al-Shabab militants have changed tactics and resorted to using improvised explosive devices to carry out attacks in parts of the coastal and northeastern regions, according to police.

The militant group is believed to have fighters operating in the area’s Boni forest that has poor communication network and terrains, slowing down police operations.
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UPDATES:

Kenyan police pursue al-Shabab suspects 'after being spotted in Lamu'

LAMU (Xinhua) -- Kenyan police said Sunday they are pursuing a large group of suspected al-Shabab militants who were spotted in an area in the coastal county of Lamu.

Locals in the Ndeu area had reported seeing a group of about 50 heavily armed suspected al-Shabab militants heading to a Kenya electricity generating company (KenGen) power station, which is located just a few kilometers away from Milihoi area where suspected militants killed a police officer on Thursday.

Charles Mbatu, Lamu County Administration Police Coordinating Commander, on Sunday confirmed having received the report on the sighting of suspected al-Shabab militants but said the group was likely security officers who have been conducting a security operation in the area since the Milihoi attack on Thursday.

Mbatu said there is a huge presence of the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) and regular police who have been deployed to the area since the recent attack and that such a huge presence could easily be confused for something else by someone not in the know.

He however encouraged members of the public to continue cooperating with security officers and report any suspicious persons or sightings to the police as soon as they do so as to allow for prompt interventions.

"We received reports from members of the public that suspicious persons had been seen at Ndeu.

"We immediately dispatched a team of soldiers there.

"They have combed that area but haven’t seen a thing.

"We think locals could have easily confused the huge number of KDF soldiers deployed for something else," Mbatu said.

In the Saturday sighting however, locals had reported they suspected the armed men to be al-Shabab militants since they wore hooded plain jungle green uniforms and carried several black flags with white inscriptions, synonymous with those of the militants.
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Kenyan police intensify crackdown on al-Shabab after Milihoi police killing

LAMU (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s security agencies in the coastal county of Lamu have intensified a crackdown on suspected al-Shabab militants following an ambush that killed one officer and injuring two others on Thursday.

Lamu County Administration Police Coordinating Commander Charles Mbatu said the crackdown is concentrated around the area of the attack at Milihoi and areas toward and around the Boni forest where the militants are said to have fled shortly after the daytime attack.

"We lost an officer who had been injured in the attack.

"Two others were injured.

Two vehicles are also torched.

"We are still very much on the ground pursuing the suspects," Mbatu said in Lamu.

The Boni forest has been used as the hideout by militants when they launch attacks in Lamu.

There were reports that the militants have a well-equipped base deep inside the forest.

The scene of the latest attack, on the Lamu-Garsen road, is a secluded location where militants launched tens of attacks on security and civilian vehicles in the past.

Two vehicles, the police vehicle and a private saloon car that was heading to Lamu, were torched during the daring ambush.

The police vehicle had six officers on board.

Three remain accounted for, said Mbatu.

The private vehicle had two occupants who managed to escape, though their whereabouts remain unknown, raising fears that they could have been killed by the militants after they fled into the bushes for cover or taken hostage by the militants.

The attack paralyzed transport on the road for hours.

Transport has since resumed amid heavy security presence on the road and surrounding bushes.

             

 

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