NAIROBI, Kenya – Suspected Islamic extremists killed six people in an attack in northern Kenya near the border with Somalia, an official said Thursday, while the al-Shabab extremist group claimed it had targeted Christians.
The gunmen targeted 33 non-Muslims living in a residential block but security forces’ quick response saved other lives, Mandera County Governor Ali Roba said in a statement. He said the attack occurred near the Bulla area in the early morning.
The Somalia-based Al-Shabab, through its Andulus radio station, claimed responsibility. The station quoted an unnamed al-Shabab official saying: “It was a well-planned attack which targeted Christian members in Mandera.”
Kenya government spokesman Eric Kiraithe said security agencies had received intelligence that there would be an attack in Mandera, “but there was no actual and accurate specific intelligence on this particular attack,” Kiraithe told reporters.
He said the attackers “escaped through the border.”
Kenya has experienced a wave of attacks from al-Shabab, which is allied with al-Qaida. Al-Shabab has vowed retribution on Kenya for sending troops to Somalia since 2011 to fight the extremists who are waging an insurgency against Somalia’s weak western-backed government.
Both Mandera County and Garissa County, which border Somalia, have been targeted by al-Shabab. The worst attack was in April 2015, when al-Shabab gunmen killed 148, most of them students, at Garissa University.
Suspected al-Shabab gunmen killed at least six people when they shot at two buses travelling in Mandera County in July.
Al-Shabab extremists also hijacked a bus travelling through Mandera County in November 2014 and killed 28 non-Muslims on board. In December 2014, they killed 36 quarry workers in Mandera town.
Associated Press writer Abdi Guled contributed to this report from Mogadishu, Somalia.