A suspected recruiter for Somalia's al Shabaab militant group wielded deadly revenge on Kenyan police on Thursday, after he snatched a weapon from a guard and shot dead at least four officers at a station near the Ugandan border where he was being held under arrest.
The suspect was detained on Wednesday and taken to the Kapenguria police station for interrogation and grabbed the weapon during a routine roll call early on Thursday morning, according to a local officer, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
"I can confirm that four police officers have been killed but they could be more," the officer told Reuters.
Kenyan television channel KTN said as many as six officers had died in the continuing stand-off. KTN and other Kenyan media said police reinforcements had been deployed.
"The suspect has locked himself inside one of the rooms and we are trying to get him out," the officer said. "We have surrounded the station."
A police spokesman and a regional official had no immediate comment.
Al-Shabaab, meaning "youth," first formed in Somalia in 2006 with the aim of toppling the weak government and implementing a harsh brand of Islamic law. The African Union started a military operation in 2011 working closely with Kenyan troops, with the mission largely succeeding in pushing the fighters from strongholds in Mogadishu and along the coast.
Al Shabaab has launched a series of attacks against Kenya in recent years, including using local recruits. The group says the attacks are aimed at driving Kenyan forces out of Somalia.
The group killed 148 students at Garissa University in northeast Kenya in April 2015, the worst militant attack in the country in almost two decades. An al-Shabaab attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi in September 2013 killed 67 people.
This past January, Kenyan troops took heavy losses when al Shabaab made a dawn raid on their camp in El Adde near the Kenyan border. Al Shabaab said it killed more than 100 soldiers, possibly the deadliest ever attack carried out by the militants against the Kenyan military. Kenya has yet to provide an exact casualty figure.
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