Suspected al-Shabab militants stormed a village in Kenya’s Garissa County, the same county where the al Qaeda-affiliated group killed nearly 150 people in April. The raid came just a few hours after members of the group targeted a military vehicle with an improvised explosive device, Kenya’s Standard Digital reported Sunday.
Officials confirmed 10 militants were involved in the Saturday night incident and revealed the attackers were likely looking to target “nonlocal” masons currently doing construction work on a mosque in the village of Bulla-Golol.
“Luckily, the masons fled from the site after the attackers started shooting indiscriminately from a distance as they headed toward the construction site,” Amb Mohamud Swaleh, Kenya’s northeastern regional commissioner, told Standard Digital. “The workers managed to escape and disappear in nearby bushes unscathed.”
Swaleh said the same militants were also believed to be behind a road side bomb attack on a Kenyan army vehicle that was heading to Garissa from a border base. “One of the vehicles hit the explosive, but fortunately it was too weak to cause any impact to any of our officers or the vehicle,” he said, adding security personnel were now deployed in the village tracing the footsteps of the assailants who are now believed to be fleeing back across the border to Somalia.
The Somali group has recently scaled up its attacks along the border with Kenya, which it has targeted frequently in the past years for its involvement in an African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia. In April, the group raided Garissa University College where they killed 148 people in their deadliest attack yet.
The Saturday attack in Garissa was one of two executed by the militant group this weekend against Kenyan targets. Eleven al-Shabab militants and two Kenyan soldiers were killed after fighters from the group attacked a military base in Kenya’s northern Lamu County on Sunday. Militants also stormed a village in the area where they forced men out of their houses into a mosque for an hour of prayers before disappearing, Reuters reported. Officials confirmed the military had seized weapons from the militants, including 13 AK-47 rifles and several grenades.