Two Administration Police officers have died while three others have been injured after suspected Al-Shabaab militants ambushed an escort vehicle they were travelling in at Lango La Simba in Nyongoro, along the Lamu-Malindi road.
Coast Police Boss Larry Kieng said the officers, who were escorting five passenger buses from Lamu to Mombasa, died on the spot.
The officers’ vehicle had remained behind after one of the buses, which had been flagged down by the heavily armed militia, slowed down.
Unconfirmed reports indicated that some General Service Unit personnel who responded to the attack were also injured.
KDF IN PURSUIT
Kenya Defence Forces helicopters were patrolling the area as security personnel pursued the killers.
The attackers, who were dressed in jungle military uniform, distributed leaflets to the passengers but did not harm them.
A passenger who talked to the Nation said the militants entered in the buses and started distributing leaflets written “We won’t retreat. Our target is the government”.
“The police escort vehicle was following us at a distance. Our bus was the first one to be stopped by the men. I saw two of them. They were heavily armed and were hooded. They entered the bus, scrutinized us before they hurriedly begun distributing leaflets.
“They then alighted and went for the police escort vehicle. That’s when we started hearing gunshots and that was when it dawned to us that the men were Al-Shabaab,” said the passenger who declined to be named.
“At first we thought they were Kenyan soldiers only to realise they were Al-Shabaab after they exchanged fire with police,” another passenger said.
A police source on the ground who spoke to Nation on condition of anonymity said the attack happened at around 10.30am Tuesday.
The source also said that other police officers are feared to have been taken hostage by the militants during the attack.
“It was around 10.30am. A group of heavily armed suspected Al-Shabaab militants emerged from the bushes and started shooting randomly at the police escort vehicle,” said the officer on phone.
The buses that the officers were escorting had to be taken to Witu Town and then delayed at the Gamba roadblock for some hours before they were allowed to proceed with their journeys.
Confirming the incident, Boni Enclave Campaign Director Joseph Kanyiri said police officers had been sent to the scene.
On August 30, 2017, an occupant of a Toyota Probox and a driver of a lorry were killed at Gamba near Nyongoro in Witu, Lamu West when their vehicles were sprayed with bullets by suspected Al-Shabaab militants.
During the incident, the attackers also bombed and destroyed an electric pylon belonging to Kenya Power company within Gamba.
Earlier on August 18, four people were beheaded by suspected Al-Shabaab militants at Maleli Village, also in Witu.
Mr Kanyiri revealed that Al-Shabaab are using propaganda leaflets which are meant to advertise their mission while at the same time poisoning the minds of the citizens by asking them to stop cooperating with the government on security matters.
He said Al-Shabaab recruiters were also issuing free memory (SD) cards loaded with all propaganda videos and information that is meant to persuade prospective recruits into believing that the militia group is all powerful and is pursuing a just course.