Four Kenyan policemen killed in suspected al Shabaab raid

GARISSA, Kenya Sat Aug 17, 2013 3:35am EDT

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GARISSA, Kenya (Reuters) - Four Kenyan police officers were shot dead in the border county of Garissa when 40 heavily armed men, suspected of belonging to Somali militant group al Shabaab, attacked a police post, a senior regional government official said on Saturday.

The east African nation, which sent its troops into Somalia in late 2011 to pursue the al Qaeda-linked militants, has suffered a string of gun and grenade attacks claimed by al Shabaab group as retaliation.

"Four administration police officers were killed during the attack and we are now preparing to transport their bodies from the scene," Garissa County Commissioner Rashid Khattor said.

"Our initial assessment points to the attackers being al Shabaab militants who crossed over the border and carried out the hit and run attack," he said.

A local teacher was also injured in the attack at Galmagalla late on Friday, Khattor said.

Last month, al Shabaab released two Kenyan government officials it had seized in a 2012 cross-border attack, after holding them in Somalia for more than a year.

The attacks have damaged Kenya's tourism industry, also hit by a massive fire at its main international airport last week in peak season.

(Reporting by Abdisalan Ahmed; Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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