, NAIROBI, Kenya Dec 28 – Three people were killed and two others injured after an explosion went off in a vehicle within Mandera town Monday, the latest in a series of terror-related incidents in the region, police and the military said.
While locals staged a demonstration accusing the military of shooting the three people, the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) Spokesman Col David Obonyo denied the claims, saying “the vehicle exploded, it appears there was some device in the vehicle that went off.”
“Reports that our officers have shot at the vehicle are erroneous,” he said, when asked about the reports.
“The vehicle had passed three of our (KDF) vehicles when it suddenly exploded,” he told Capital FM News on telephone, “it was not shot at.”
A senior police officer in the region too denied the reports of the shooting, instead saying “this is a matter that is under investigation because we want to determine what exploded in the car. We are not ruling out anything.”
Those wounded were taken to hospital under armed police guard, with authorities indicating that Anti Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) detectives were interested in questioning them.
There have been heightened security operations in the region since the killing of four people—including two police officers on Sunday.
The latest attack targeting police officers occurred on Sunday in a similar area to an ambush last Monday, when Al Shabaab gunmen opened fire on a bus, killing two people at Elwak not far from the porous Somalia border.
“Two police officers killed and two others injured in an ambush along Lafey-Elwak road, Mandera County,” the Kenya Red Cross said of the Sunday attack.
The security operation was being conducted by a combined ream of the military and police officers deployed to the region to track the attackers said to be hiding at the border with Somalia.
“A major security operation is underway in the region to track down the attackers and to restore peace in the region,” a senior police officer said.
Mandera Governor Ali Roba on Sunday said residents are worried of the increased attacks that seem to target areas that have had no incident for a long time.
“Within the last three weeks we have had more than seven terror incidents happening in Mandera, this raises a lot concern because of the increased movements of terror cells in the region and soon we will be talking of a spread to other areas,” he told a news conference in Nairobi on Sunday.
Earlier this week, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet warned of the risk of fresh attacks by Al Shabaab insurgents who have split into rival factions inside Kenya, with some shifting allegiance from Al-Qaeda to the Islamic State.
Those now loyal to IS operate in the Mandera region, while the Al-Qaeda force is based in the southeastern Boni Forest district, police said.
The attack on Sunday is in a similar area to an ambush last Monday, when Al Shabaab gunmen opened fire on a bus, killing two people at Elwak.
On Saturday, police said a suspected Al Shabaab fighter was killed nearby when a homemade roadside bomb he was planting exploded.