Kenya Defence Forces soldiers gun down three 'Shabaab militants'

Three suspected Al Shabaab militants were killed yesterday in a fierce exchange of fire with Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in Basuba, Lamu County, sparking fears of renewed militant activity in the volatile area.

The Standard learnt the clash occurred at around 10.00am, when two KDF patrol trucks struck an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) believed to have been planted by the militants.

The northern parts of Lamu County have been under heavy patrol by KDF since June 14, when militiamen from an Al Shabaab cell called Jaysh Ayman attempted to overrun a KDF camp at Baure. Some 18 militants, including Jaysh Ayman's leader Luqman Issa Osman and British jihadist Thomas Evans, were killed alongside two KDF soldiers in the abortive raid.

Yesterday's clash followed recent gains by KDF, which has stepped up ground and aerial operations in parts of Lamu and established several camps in the area. Reports indicate KDF soldiers travelling in non-armoured trucks came under intense fire after one of them hit an IED, after which they responded.

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KDF spokesman Colonel David Obonyo told The Standard that five soldiers were injured in the incident.

"One of our vehicles was hit by an IED and our soldiers engaged the attackers and three militants were killed," Obonyo said.

According to the KDF spokesman, the militants planted the explosive by the roadside, about 10 kilometres outside Basuba township.

 Rockets fired

Reports show the KDF patrol was on a surveillance mission between Baure camp towards Basuba and Mangai areas, which have experienced militia infiltration lately.

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"The soldiers who were injured have been taken to hospital," said Obonyo. However, Obonyo said it has not been established if the soldiers were injured by gun fire or shrapnel from the IED blast.

He said after the blast, the militants, whose number had not been established, opened fire, sparking a fierce gun battle with KDF.

"We cannot estimate how many the militants were," Obonyo said.

He denied that the militants fired rockets at the KDF convoy, adding that the soldiers recovered two Kalashnikov rifles from the slain attackers.

According to independent sources, heavy fighting was still going on by yesterday afternoon but Obonyo described the activity following the IED attack and fire exchange as 'normal operations', adding that 'this is a continuous operation'.

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Since May 12 this year, militant activity involving the use of IEDs has been growing in the heavily-forested triangular area where northern Lamu and southern Garissa border Somalia and the Indian Ocean.

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terrorismal ShabaabKenya Defence Forces