Suspected Al Shabaab insurgents hit the vehicle with a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) killing the government officials.
“This incident occurred at about midday when people we suspect to be Al Shabaab threw an RPG on the vehicle carrying the officials involved in the national examinations. As a result four of them died on the spot,” North Eastern Provincial Commissioner Joseph Ole Serian said on telephone from Garissa.
“We suspect they are Al Shabaab because they escaped towards Somalia after the incident,” he said adding that “we are also trying to establish reports that there were police officers in the vehicle at the time of the attack.”
The Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) Chief Executive Officer Paul Wasanga confirmed to us that some of those killed were officials from the Ministry of Education. They include the principal of Lafey Secondary school, the Mandera District Education Officer and two security officers.
“The officials had gone to collect the examination papers when the incident occurred. We do not know what exactly happened but all four officers were killed,” he told Capital News on telephone.
He however assured that the incident would not affect examinations set for Friday “since the papers were not yet collected.”
“The exams set for tomorrow will however not be affected since they had not yet collected the materials,” he said.
Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere had earlier told a press conference he was awaiting details from the ground before giving the death toll.
“I would like to confirm that there was an attack about 100 kilometres from Mandera town. It involved a government vehicle ferrying examinations but we do not have all the details yet,” Iteere said, confirming that the attack had occurred.
Kenya has been on high alert since last week after Al Shabaab insurgents threatened retaliatory attacks to protest a military offensive targeting them in the lawless country which has not had a functioning government for two decades now.
On Monday, Nairobi suffered two grenade attacks – one at a pub known as Mwaura’s off Mfangano Street and another at the congested OTC bus stop near the Salvation Army headquarters.
In both attacks, one person was killed and 30 others wounded but only seven were admitted to hospital by Thursday others having been discharged.
Police arrested and charged a man on Wednesday who admitted to being responsible for one of the attacks.
The 28-year-old man identified in court documents as Elgiva Bwire Oliacha pleaded guilty to nine serious charges which included firearms and explosives possession as well as being a member of the Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab militant group.
He had been arrested in Kayole estate in Nairobi where police seized some 13 grenades and a cache of firearms and ammunitions from his house.
“The person pleaded guilty to all the charges. There are also two other people who are his accomplices and they will be charged in court this [Thursday] afternoon or early Friday,” Iteere told journalists at a joint press conference with the Government Spokesman.
The police chief has vowed to rid the country of Al Shabaab insurgents who are blamed for a series of insecurity incidents in the country, including the recent kidnapping of four European women.
Frenchwoman Marie Dedieu seized from Lamu Island who died in captivity in Somalia is among the four women.
The other three are a Briton also seized from Lamu and two Spaniards working for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) who were captured and taken away from Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp.
Kenyan security officials blame the Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab rebels for the abductions, but the insurgents deny involvement.
On October 16, Nairobi deployed forces to battle the Islamist militia, who control much of southern Somalia.
The Kenyan military have not said how many men have been deployed, but analysts estimate that it has sent between 2,000 and 3,000 troops.
However, Somalia President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed on Monday said he opposed the incursion despite an agreement signed by Kenyan and Somali defence ministers on the operation.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Somali government said it was keen to see the Shabaab defeated, but added that “the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of both Somalia and Kenya should be respected.”