Kenya says it kills three militants planning attacks in Mombasa

MOMBASA (Reuters) - Kenyan police shot dead three men suspected of planning militant attacks in the coastal city of Mombasa on Tuesday, ahead of national day celebrations to be hosted in the city this month, according to a senior official.

The suspects were killed in a raid on a house in Majengo Mapya, a suburb in the city’s south, said Paul Leting, director of criminal investigations in the coast region. Seven other suspects were detained.

“That house was a hideout for planning attacks and other criminal activities,” Leting told journalists at a press conference in Mombasa.

Weapons including a grenade, 1,700 rounds of ammunition, a rifle and 15 pistol holders were seized in the raid, Leting said. Police also recovered two bullet-proof jackets, Quran journals, police and military uniforms, military face masks, eight machetes and gun oil from the suspects’ hideout.

Two security sources who asked not to be identified said the slain suspects were on Kenya’s terrorism watch-list and had been trailed for a while.

A terrorism alert from police last month warned that fighters from the al Shabaab Islamist group in neighboring Somalia were planning attacks at targets including churches, universities, hospitals and schools in Kenya’s coast region.

Leting did not say whether the suspects were connected to al Shabaab. Shabaab fighters frequently launch attacks in Kenya’s north, the capital Nairobi and the coast, to try to press Kenya to pull its troops from Somalia, where they are part of a peacekeeping force.

Editing by Elias Biryabarema and Peter Graff