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Al-Shabab Suspected in Fatal Kenya Attack

FILE - In an earlier incident, Kenya army soldiers patrol near attacked buses in Mandera, Kenya, July 1, 2016, after gunmen, thought to be from the al-Shabab group according to a Kenyan official, killed at least six people.

NAIROBI — Eight Kenya police officers were killed when their vehicle was blown up by an improvised explosive device in a suspected attack by Somalia-based jihadist group al-Shabab, police said.

"We lost eight police officers in this attack," North Eastern Regional Commissioner John Otieno said. "We suspect the work of al-Shabab, who are now targeting security forces and passenger vehicles."

The incident took place on Tuesday in Garissa county in eastern Kenya, a region on the border with Somalia - where al-Shabab has been waging a bloody insurgency against the fragile government in Mogadishu for more than 15 years.

Kenya first sent troops into Somalia in 2011 to combat the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamist militants, and is now a major contributor of troops to an African Union military operation against the group.

But it has suffered a string of retaliatory assaults, including a bloody siege at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi in 2013 that cost 67 lives and an attack on Garissa University in 2015 that killed 148 people.

In Somalia itself, al-Shabab has continued to wage deadly attacks despite a major offensive launched last August by pro-government forces, backed by the A.U. force known as ATMIS.

In one of the worst recent attacks, 54 Ugandan peacekeepers were killed when al-Shabab fighters stormed an African Union base in Somalia on May 26, according to Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni.

And on Saturday, Somali police said six civilians were killed in a six-hour siege by the militants at a beachside hotel in Mogadishu.