Two suspected al Shabab gunmen are dead after a gun battle broke out between police officers and militants in Kenya.
Officials told Kenya’s Daily Nation that between 10 and 15 gunmen attacked a police station close to the Kenya-Somalia border on Tuesday night. Two of the gunmen were killed as the rest fled back into Somalia, they say. One police officer also died in the fight. The attack was also reported on pro-al Shabab websites, crediting the militant group.
The attack comes amid increasing debate about what some authorities fear are “soft targets” for the militant group.
This latest attack occurred in the same county where al Shabab militants killed 148 people last month at Garissa University College -- their deadliest attack yet. The United States classified al Shabab as a terrorist group in 2008. The militants, who are linked to al Qaeda, at first were focused on forcing foreign troops out of Somalia, but have recently changed their focus to international jihad, hence the attacks on Kenya.
The university attack has sparked a wave of tensions between Kenyans and Somali immigrants, who make up roughly 6 percent of Kenya’s total population and have long faced mistrust from citizens, as the Christian Science Monitor reported.
The latest incident took place near the Dadaab refugee camp, which some Kenyan lawmakers attempted to close down following the university massacre. Just 50 miles (90 km) from Somalia’s border, the United Nations set up the camp in 1991 to harbor Somalis fleeing violence and famine in their home country. The complex currently holds roughly 350,000 people and is unofficially the third-largest city in Kenya, according to the country’s Department of Refugee Affairs.
Kenyan authorities had also threatened to close the camp, claiming it was a security risk, but later withdrew their decision after pressure from international organizations and aid groups and a visit from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.