Somalia Islamist militants, Al Shabaab killed at least 25 police officers in Garissa on Monday, the group said, ambushing some officers in Yumbis village, 70kms from Garissa town, after others died when their vehicle hit a landmine planted by the militants.
The Islamist group also burnt five vehicles in the two incidents, spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, told Reuters news agency.
“We took all their weapons. There were some Kenyan forces that escaped in the course of the ambush fighting,” said Musab.
The government, through police spokesman Masoud Mwinyi, however said only two officers had died in the attack, describing reports of 25 deaths as alarmist and exaggerated.
Al Shabaab, which has carried out several attacks in Kenya in recent years to try to force Kenya to withdraw its troops from Somalia, attacked a university in the same area last month and killed 148 people.
A police source in Garissa, said no policeman had been killed, but confirmed a few officers had been wounded.
“Yesterday at night the militants attacked a police base in Yumbis and set several police houses on fire. They (attackers) were several, about 20. We were sent immediately to rescue our colleagues at the base, but it seems the militants had planted land mines along the way,” the officer, who requested anonymity, told Baraka FM.
“The mines hit two of our vehicles and some five officers who were in the first two trucks were injured and are were taken to the Garissa hospital.
Last week the militants raided the village where they reportedly led prayers at a local mosque where they hoisted their flag.
“These guys have been coming to these villages frequently and harassing the local community. They frequently ask them to show them where police officers and soldiers live. We have really been their target,” said the officer.
In Mombasa, anti terrorism police on Tuesday arrested a man they described as a wanted terror suspect in Bondeni area.
Khalid Mohamed was arrested and found possessing a Russian-made hand grenade, bomb detonator and plastic explosives, police said.
Police say Mohamed was linked to plots to attack installations in Mombasa, as well as behind recruitment of youth into the al shabaab.
Additional reporting by Weldon Kemboi.