Kenya Officials Dispute Claim of Police Deaths by Al-Shabaab

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Kenyan police disputed claims by local officials that at least 20 officers were killed in an attack by al-Shabaab militants in the northeast of the country, saying that only one died and four were injured.

Kenyan Police Inspector-General Joseph Boinnet said officers on patrol in Garissa county came under attack late Monday. More officers rushed to the scene in response. The situation is under control, the police said on Tuesday.

Earlier, Fafi sub-county Commissioner Geoffrey Taragon said at least 20 people died in the attack, in which the assailants used rocket-propelled grenades. Al-Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abdulaziz Abumusab confirmed the militia carried out the assault on the convoy and cited the same death toll as Taragon, while Mahat Osman, a local politician who visited the scene, also said he counted as many as 20 bodies.

The clashes in Garissa come less than two months after an al-Shabaab raid on a university in the county left at least 147 people dead. That was the deadliest attack on Kenya since al-Qaeda bombed the U.S. Embassy in 1998.

Somalia-based al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks in Kenya over the past four years in revenge for its troop deployment in bordering Somalia in 2011. The militants have been waging an insurgency in Somalia since 2006 in a bid to oust the government and establish Islamic law.

The attackers burnt two army vehicles beyond repair, while two others were slightly damaged, the police said. No civilian lives were lost in the incident, it said.

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