MOGADISHU (Reuters) – Al Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia have captured hostages and a Kenyan government vehicle after killing seven people in an attack on a police camp in Northern Kenya on Wednesday, a spokesman for al Shabaab told Reuters on Friday.
Kenyan security officers are searching for two government officials and a civilian whom they suspect were kidnapped during the raid by about 100 heavily armed fighters on the police camp in Gerille, about 7 km (4 miles) from the Somali border.
“We have Kenyan prisoners including officers. We also have with us a Kenyan military lorry,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, a spokesman for al Shabaab, told Reuters by phone. He did not give the exact number.
Kenya army spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir told Reuters there was no military vehicle nor military personnel in captivity.
A police officer in the Somali town of Diff, about 20 km (12 miles) from the border, reported seeing three Kenyan captives unloaded from a van that was part of an armed convoy.
“Three guys, whose faces had been covered, were seen as they disembarked from one of the vans less than a minute after the van arrived,” the officer, who declined to be named, told Reuters.
Militants were also seen showing off hostages on the back of a pick-up truck in Bardheere, more than 150 km (94 miles) from the border in Somalia’s Gedo region, suggesting they may be taking them deeper into the anarchic Horn of Africa state.
“We saw two Kenyans in ordinary clothes who were tightly chained on a pick-up that was said to be looted from Kenya. They were not Somali by origin. Al Shabaab drove the pick-up slowly throughout the town,” Bardheere shopkeeper Hussein Hassan told Reuters.
Kenyan officials declined to comment on those reports, nor on whether they were planning operations to rescue the captives.
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