Police said at least five were killed in a roadside bomb attack in eastern Kenya on Wednesday, as Kenyan troops inside Somalia pulled out of some bases following militant attacks.
“There was an incident where a police lorry hit an improvised explosive device,” Kenyan Police Chief Joseph Boinnet confirmed, without giving a casualty toll.
A senior police officer, who asked not to be named, said five officers were killed in the blast as the truck drove towards Mpeketoni, in the coastal Lamu region.
Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper reported that five officers died while other sources have reported the casualty number to be higher.
Al Shabab militants stormed a Kenyan army base at el Adde in southwest Somalia on January 15, in the latest incident of an African Union Base being overrun by the group.
Al Shabab claimed that more than 100 Kenyan soldiers were killed, with some captured, but Kenya has so far refused to say how many of its soldiers were actually killed, injured or still remain missing.
Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, vowed for revenge and said that Al Shabab would “have no time to breathe.”
Kenyatta is due to attend a memorial service on Wednesday, alongside visiting Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari.
The blast came as Kenya pulled its soldiers out from some of its bases in southern Somalia, following the Al Shabab raids.
The army however said that it was not leaving Somalia and remained committed to the fight.
Army spokesman, David Obonyo, said the mission is still on, and the intention on taking soldiers to Somalia is to liberate and pacify those areas.
Lamu Governor Issa Timamy told Reuters, "It is unfortunate that once again the nation is mourning the deaths of our five officers killed at the hands of Al Shabab."
Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al Shabab's military operation spokesman, told Reuters that "We killed eight Kenyan soldiers after we burnt their car with a roadside bomb near Lamu area."
Kenyan soldiers vacated at least two military bases in el Adde and Badhaadhe.
Witnesses said that Al Shabab militants occupied the bases after Kenyan soldiers vacated them.
"Shabab fighters [militants] took control of el Adde after the Kenyan soldiers pulled out," said Abdulahi Mohamud, a traditional elder.
"Shabab fighters [militants] entered without fighting and have started addressing the people. Both the Kenyan and the Somali troops emptied their positions," said Ahmed Gure, another elder.