* Gunmen attack police in garrison town
* Surge in attacks against security forces in past year
* Secessionists campaigning in coastal strip
* Grenade thrown near port city of Mombasa
NAIROBI, Nov 16 Two policemen were shot dead on
Friday at a market in the eastern Kenyan town of Garissa, a base
for security forces fighting insurgents in neigbouring Somalia.
The policemen, among a group of five officers, were on a
routine inspection at the town's main market when they were
attacked, said Garissa police chief George Losku.
"The attackers shot dead two of the officers while the other
three engaged the attackers in a gunfight," he said.
It was not immediately clear if the attackers were connected
to Somali Islamist militants and their sympathisers, blamed by
the government in Nairobi for a surge in grenade and gun attacks
in the past year following Kenya's deployment of troops into
Somalia to battle al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels.
Garissa, a market centre for trade in camels, donkeys, goats
and cattle located 200 km (120 miles) from the Somali border, is
an operating centre for the military mission and a target for
the insurgency - one of the Kenyan government's major headaches
ahead of a March election.
Kenyan soldiers and Somali forces seized Kismayu, al
Shabaab's last major urban stronghold in southern Somalia, six
weeks ago, driving the militants out.
In July, attacks on two churches in Garissa killed 17. Since
then there have been sporadic grenade attacks.
Separately, in the southern coastal city of Mombasa, a man
threw a grenade at a local administrator's office, wounding
three people, including the official, police said.
"These are al Shabaab operatives who ran away from Somalia
after the invasion of our forces, especially in Kismayu," Robert
Kitur, Coast region deputy police chief, said.
The attack took place in Kwale, 20 km (12 miles) south of
Mombasa, an area known as a stronghold for the separatist
Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), which is campaiging for the
sec ession of Kenya's Indian Ocean coastal strip, a t ourist and
The government has intensified a crackdown on MRC members
and supporters in recent months, though some senior members have
recently been released on bail.