Five security officers were killed when their armoured vehicles were hit by a rocket propelled grenade in Elwak, Mandera County.
About 20 other personnel from the Kenya Defence Forces and Anti-Stock Theft (ASTU) Unit were injured during the 1pm incident on Tuesday.
The teams were travelling between Farhama and Elram when their two armoured vehicles and a lorry were hit by the rocket fired by suspected Al Shabaab militants.
The attack badly damaged the vehicles, killing three KDF soldiers and two ASTU personnel. Those injured were evacuated to Nairobi for treatment.
The team was patrolling the area near the Kenya-Somali border when the incident occurred.
The attack has once again reignited debate on the suitability and safety of some of the military equipment procured for security operations.
This is the latest such incident that has left security personnel dead and others seriously wounded inside vehicles that are supposed to protect them.
“It is a shame that they died in such an attack in a vehicle that is supposed to protect them. It raises questions on the suitability of these carriers,” said an official aware of the incident.
The vehicles affected- the Norinco VN4 armoured personnel carriers - were acquired from China in 2016 to protect security agents from landmines and improvised explosive device attacks.
Security personnel involved in operations against the militants were directed to travel in the vehicles at all times for their safety.
However, questions are now being raised on the safety standards of the vehicles.
Kenya bought the 30 Chinese made VN-4 type armoured personnel carriers which were given to the General Service Unit and ASTU.
An additional fleet of CS/VP3 type Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles was purchased and, among other units, deployed to the border patrol unit of Administration Police.
The VN-4 APC model is manufactured by Chongqing Tiema Industries Corporation in China.
The CS/VP3 MRAPs model is manufactured by Chinese Poly Technologies.
Reports indicate that there have been a silent push to change suppliers.
The carriers were deployed to Mandera, Elwak, Liboi, Amuma, Mangai, Basuba, Milimani, Mkowe, Mugumumbi, Mangai, Barago, Tot and Arabai.
President Uhuru Kenyatta commissioned the vehicles at a low-key ceremony attended by the then Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet.
Experts say there are no guarantees that one can survive a blast inside an MRAP, and that this depends on the amount of explosives used.
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