GARISSA, Kenya, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Suspected Somali gunmen attacked a police
station and a government vehicle in northern Kenya late on Monday, the
latest in a series of assaults on Kenya since it sent troops to fight
Somalia's Islamist rebels.
Kenya mounted an air and ground offensive against al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab
in Somalia more than three weeks ago after a string of kidnappings and
cross-border raids it blamed on the group.
While there has been little major ground combat within Somalia since Kenya
forces entered the Horn of Africa nation, Kenyan authorities and al Shabaab
fighters have claimed successes in attacks either side of the border.
Al Shabaab fighters attacked a Kenyan police station near the border town of
El Wak late on Monday, said Kenyan police, Somali government forces and
Mahmoud Ali Shire, commander of Somali government troops fighting alongside
Kenyan forces, told Reuters two al Shabaab fighters had been killed in the
Leo Nyongesa, the police commander of Kenya's North Eastern Province, said
he was not aware of any Kenyan casualties.
"Our officers were vigilant ... they fought the attackers. A team of
military and police close to the border joined them and repulsed the thugs,
who ran back into Somalia," he told Reuters.
Further to the south, gunmen attacked a Kenyan government vehicle ferrying
exam papers to the border town of Liboi.
Gunmen ambushed the car and exchanged fire with a police escort, but no one
was hurt, North Eastern Provincial Director of Education Adan Sheikh told
REFUGEES PROTEST AGAINST AL SHABAAB
Monday's incidents were the latest in a string of low-level but persistent
attacks on north-east Kenya. Two people were killed in a grenade attack in
the military town of Garissa on Saturday.
A U.N. aid convoy also struck a landmine that failed to detonate in the
Dadaab refugee camp, the world's largest, where 400,000 Somalis are living
after fleeing violence and famine in their own country.
Thousands there demonstrated on Tuesday against al Shabaab and in support of
Kenya's military action.
"We are tired of staying away from our homes, our country. These thugs must
be challenged and fought," Kusow Abdi Nun, a spokesman for a group of
refugees from Hagadera, one of three camps within Dadaab, told Reuters.
"They should stop using Islam to achieve their selfish interest," he said,
referring to al Shabaab's aim of imposing their own strict version of sharia
law across Somalia.
Kenya is the latest country to entangle itself in the affairs of its
anarchic neighbour which has suffered two decades of civil war.
The military says it wants to eliminate the threat of al Shabaab, which has
hit Kenya's crucial tourist industry, and help the Western-backed Mogadishu
government which has been fighting the militants since 2007.
Kenya's military has vowed to launch more air strikes on al Shabaab's bases
in southern and central Somalia, especially after reports that weapons
consignments from Eritrea had reached an al Shabaab base there last week.
Eritrea strongly denies the allegations. (Additional reporting by Mohamed
Ahmed in Mogadishu and Sahra Abdi in Nairobi; Writing by Yara Bayoumy;
Editing by David Clarke)
C Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved
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Received on Tue Nov 08 2011 - 11:44:54 EST