MANDERA— At least five security officers were killed and an unknown number of others injured on Wednesday after a vehicle they were traveling in was hit by an explosive device in Mandera County near the Somalia border.
Mandera East Deputy County commissioner Lawrence Omondi said the deceased were part of Governor Ali Ibrahim Roba’s security team and were escorting him for a political campaign in Lafey when the incident happened.
The governor’s vehicle and others had bypassed the scene before the explosion.
Omondi said a team of police officers and Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers have been dispatched to the scene to pursue the attackers and investigate the attack.
Governor Roba later confirmed the officers were killed in the attack.
“Unfortunately I lost five of my security officers including my personal bodyguard at an attack on my convoy between Arabia and Fino at around 1 PM.,” Roba said in his Facebook post.
Some police officers on the ground refused to divulge more details on the incident amid conflicting reports on the status of the injured officers with some colleagues saying a few had life threatening injuries.
“They were part of an escort team on the governor and the incident happened far away. We are yet to get more details on the nature of their injuries,” said an officer in Mandera Town.
Roba’s car was not affected. Witnesses said the police car was badly damaged in the blast.
Mandera County has been scene of vicious attacks since 2014 where dozens of non-locals were killed in commuter buses and at a quarry site. Al-Shabaab militants later claimed responsibility for the massacre which they said was in retaliation for the mistreatment of Muslims and raids on mosques in the coastal city of Mombasa.
The county and other parts of northern Kenya have been subjected to successive explosive attacks by Al-Shabaab operatives in the country following the onslaught by Kenyan soldiers on the Al-Shabaab in southern Somalia.