Five police officers were killed Thursday when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in northeastern Kenya, a day after two separate explosives killed nine officers, a regional security official said.
"The five police officers killed in the attack were on their way to join the ongoing operation in Liboi," said North Eastern Regional Coordinator Mohamud Ali Saleh, referring to a town on the border with Somalia.
Mr Saleh later told reporters that police had arrested several suspects and were following numerous leads to individuals behind the resurgence of landmine attacks in the region.
He said contingents of security officers had been sent to pursue the assailants.
“They (Al-Shabaab) have been weakened by Amisom operations in Somalia and they are now running to Kenya … they are now planting explosives on isolated roads but we will destroy them,” he said.
He linked the attacks to unscrupulous businessmen who deal with contraband goods from Somalia, claiming they want to protect their businesses.
“They are against the government opening the border for cross-border business,” he said. “We also suspect that local criminal elements might be assisting the militants whom we are going to arrest soon.”
The Kenya Red Cross said the attack occurred between Malelei and Kulan in Garissa County.
The Shabaab, a Somali-led Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group, claimed the attack — as well as the previous two — in a statement carried by the SITE Intelligence Group.
On Wednesday, nine officers were killed in two separate incidents in Mandera and Garissa counties, both in Kenya's restive northeast close to the border with Somalia.
In a span of two weeks, the region has suffered several terror attacks, including the killing of Omar Jiliow in Mandera and the killing of four civilians in Kulan.
The spate of bombings comes after Kenyan police warned of increased militant activity in the area.
Al-Shabaab militants "are dispatching operatives into parts of north eastern region to lay IEDs along routes used by our security patrols in efforts to frustrate our security operations at the border areas," the police statement said.
Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet warned that some members of the terrorist group had sneaked into the country and were planning attacks.
In a statement, IGP Boinnet said the terror group was behind a series of attacks, including a recent attack in Mandera where a chief was killed.
The IGP, however, said police were on high alert and asked the public to be vigilant and report suspicious people to the police.
The Shabaab began attacking Kenya in 2011 after Nairobi ordered its troops into Somalia to fight the militants.
Kenyan soldiers are now part of a 22,000-strong African Union mission fighting in Somalia.