MOMBASA (Reuters) - Gunmen attacked a truck carrying Kenyan soldiers near the border with Somalia on Thursday, seriously wounding three of them, police said, in an assault that bore the hallmarks of Somalia’s Islamist militant group al Shabaab.
Attacks on civilians and security forces have killed well over 200 people since 2013. Concerns about security have battered Kenya’s tourism industry, including during this holiday season.
“The soldiers were going to fetch water from a borehole in Mangai village, Lamu East, when militia attacked them by shooting at their lorry,” Lamu County police commander Ephantus Kiura said.
“Three soldiers were critically injured in the incident and were airlifted to a nearby naval base where they are receiving treatment.”
The attack took place some 80 km from Lamu island - an ancient trading port and popular tourist resort - and about 100 km from the site of attacks last June and July in which gunmen killed about 100 people.
The al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab claimed responsibility for those attacks, saying it would continue its assaults to persuade Kenya to pull its troops out of Somalia, where its forces have joined other African Union troops battling the militants.
A spokesman for the militant group could not immediately be reached.
Thursday’s attack was similar to an incident last June in which two soldiers were killed after the truck they were using to ferry food to their colleagues in Somalia was attacked after it stalled. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility.
Militia also shot at a bus ferrying passengers from Lamu to Mombasa in December, prompting owners of buses using the route to demand an armed escort.
Lamu County has been under heightened security, including a dusk to dawn curfew that local businesses say has flattened the county’s tourism industry.
“It is sad that even our soldiers who are armed are being attacked. It makes us wonder who is safe, especially the defenceless civilians,” said Francis Auma from HAKI Africa, a civil rights group in Mombasa.
Editing by Edith Honan