Gunmen ambush police in Kenya, 20 dead -UPDATED

Two civilians were also killed, the police said, but did not provide details on their identities, nor did it say anything about a possible motive for the attack.

Gunmen ambush police in Kenya, 20 dead -UPDATED

World Bulletin/News Desk

Unidentified gunmen ambushed and killed at least 20 Kenyan police officers in Turkana county in the northwest of Kenya early on Saturday, police said.

Two civilians were also killed, the police said, but did not provide details on their identities, nor did it say anything about a possible motive for the attack.

Cattle rustling and clashes over grazing and farming land are common in arid areas of east Africa and these can escalate. An influx of weapons from abroad, in particular from Somalia, has intensified the ferocity of these conflicts in recent years.

"The police officers who were involved in a security operation in Kapedo area in Turkana County were ambushed by an unknown number of armed raiders," police spokesman Masoud Mwinyi said in a statement.

Mwinyi said reinforcements had been sent to the area to help with pursuing the attackers. The attack comes one week after bandits in the same area targeted a vehicle ferrying examination materials to a school in the region.

Kenyan television stations reported that the number of dead police officers stood at 22 and that a truck they were travelling in was burnt down.

In November 2012, armed cattle raiders killed at least 32 police officers in an ambush in Samburu in northern Kenya, described as the worst attack on the country's police.

Last year more than 100 people were killed in Kenya's Tana River area when two rival communities fought each other for weeks over land and water resources. The police said the clashes were incited by local politicians.

Kenyan soldiers kill six suspected separatists

Meanwhile, Kenyan soldiers shot dead six suspected members of a separatist group who hacked an officer to death in an attack on barracks in the port city of Mombasa, police and military officials said on Sunday.

The gang of between 15 and 20 men were dressed in black, wore red and blue ribbons around their heads and legs, and all had long beards and shaved heads, the port city's County Commissioner, Nelson Marwa, told reporters.

They were carrying knives, machetes and improvised explosive devices and were thought to be members of the outlawed Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), which wants independence for Kenya's Indian Ocean coastal regions, Marwa said.

"In the wee hours of today as it was heavily raining, a gang ... attempted to raid the 17 Kenya Rifles barracks in Nyali, but were met with fierce fire. In the process six of them were gunned down, and several escaped with gun shots," he said.

"These were guys who were out to engage in war. We are holding one suspect who was arrested," Marwa said.

One officer who was involved in the fighting and did not wish to be named said a colleague had been hacked to death.

"They cut one of my colleagues with machetes and killed him and that is why we responded fiercely killing many of them," he told Reuters.

MRC secretary general, Randu Nzai Ruwa, denied that the group had been involved in the attack.

Authorities have accused the MRC of involvement in a spate of killings in 2012 and 2013, including attacks on the eve of the presidential elections when at least 15 people were killed. The group also denies involvement in any of those attacks.

Colonel David Obonyo, Kenya Defence Forces spokesman, said five of the attackers in the Mombasa incident were killed on the spot and a sixth was killed while trying to escape.

Insecurity plagues the east African country and in the last few days there have been several attacks on security personnel.

Last Mod: 02 Kasım 2014, 14:11
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