Al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militants in Kenya have killed at least five soldiers in a roadside bomb attack in the country’s north, a senior government official says.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the soldiers from the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) were killed on Wednesday when their truck ran over an improvised explosive device (IED) in the coastal Lamu County.
KDF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Paul Njuguna, however, told Reuters that six soldiers were injured, three critically, in the explosion but that no one was killed.
“There was an IED, which injured six of our soldiers. Three of them are in critical condition but they have been airlifted for specialized treatment. The injured are stabilizing,” he said.
It was not immediately clear why the accounts of the KDF and the government official differed.
A spokesman for al-Shabab militants said the group was behind the attack on the KDF convoy and claimed nine soldiers had been killed.
The Somalia-based al-Shabab has vowed retribution against Kenya for sending troops across the border to Somalia in 2011 to fight the group.
Al-Shabab has seen its power diminished since the beginning of the Kenyan army operations; however, the militant group continues to carry out terrorist attacks.
Kenyan security officials say the militants have used the Boni forest, straddling the Kenya-Somalia border, as a hideout and launching pad for attacks.
The terror group has escalated its attacks in the past months, using homemade explosive devices.
In neighboring Somalia, al-Shabab has been pushed out of all major urban strongholds and ports but continues to stage attacks on targets in smaller, more remote areas.