Somali al Shabaab militants killed two police officers on Wednesday during a raid on a northeastern Kenyan town that sparked a day-long gunbattle, a police official said, the latest in a spate of militant attacks on Kenyan security services.
Al Shabaab gunmen attacked the police station in the town of Pandanguo in the coastal district of Lamu around 6 a.m. (0300 GMT), forcing villagers to flee, according to residents. The area is near Kenya's long, porous border with Somalia.
The militants raided a dispensary for drugs and houses for food items, clothes and other valuables, witnesses said. Smoke could be seen rising from the village later in the day.
In July 2014, more than 60 militants attacked the same village, torched houses and stole drugs at the same dispensary.
By 4 p.m., the gunbattle was still continuing and the militants had destroyed a phone mast, police said.
"I can confirm two police officers have lost their lives in the attack in Pandanguo in Lamu but the police are still currently fighting the militants," said George Kinoti, Kenya's national police spokesman.
Al Shabaab's military operations spokesman, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, confirmed the attack to Reuters by phone.
"We burned the police station and captured cars. Now, today, there are sporadic exchanges of gunfire between us and the police in the outskirts of the town but we still control the town," he said.
The raid follows a series of attacks in Kenya claimed by Somali militants that have killed at least 28 people in the last six weeks. Most have taken place near the Somali border.
The al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militia is fighting to overthrow Somalia's weak, UN-backed government and impose strict Islamic law in the Horn of Africa state.
They ramped up attacks in neighbouring Kenya after Kenyan troops entered Somalia in 2011 to join an African Union peacekeeping force there.
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