An unknown number of militants fired at a mast belonging to Kenya's leading operator Safaricom, triggering a gunfight with police in Garissa county, which neighbours Somalia, officials said.

In this file photo taken on September 23, 2013, smoke rises from the Westgate mall in Nairobi.
In this file photo taken on September 23, 2013, smoke rises from the Westgate mall in Nairobi. (AFP)

Four Kenyan civilians were killed in a gunfight early on Tuesday when police engaged al Shabab militants from neighbouring Somalia who targeted a telecommunications transmission mast, the police said in an internal report.

An unknown number of militants fired at a mast belonging to Kenya's leading operator Safaricom, police said. They also fired at police who were guarding the mast at a nearby patrol base.

"Officers manning the mast and the base together with special forces were able to repulse them," the police said in the report.

The raid took place in Garissa county, which neighbours Somalia. The attackers managed to destroy the door to the area holding the mast but did not cause damage to the telecom network, police said.

"During the attack, four civilians lost their lives," they said, without providing more details. A team of police officers were pursuing the attackers, they said.

The US has sent more troops to Kenya to reinforce security after al Shabab militants killed three Americans during an attack on Camp Simba in Manda Bay on Sunday.

Source: Reuters