3 police reservists killed in attacks in Kenya near Somalia

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Three police reservists were killed early Wednesday after Islamic extremists attacked cell phone towers near the border with Somalia in an effort to cripple communication.

Al-Qaida-linked militants from the al-Shabab group first attacked a cell phone tower located in northern Mandera County around 2 a.m., leaving two police reservists dead, according to a police report.

A few hours later, jihadists killed one other police reservist while trying to blow up another cell phone tower in Wajir County with a rocket-propelled grenade, a police official said.

“We repulsed them as they attempted to destroy the masts. Our forces are pursuing them,” said Rono Burnei, the regional police boss. Two other police reservists were wounded in the attack.

Al-Shabab has vowed revenge on Kenya for sending troops into Somalia to fight the militants. Kenyans troops have been actively engaged in the conflict in Somalia since 2011 when they were deployed following a series of kidnappings of Europeans in Kenya blamed on the militants. The kidnappings threatened Kenya’s vital tourism industry.

Five counties along the 434 mile Kenya-Somali border region have borne the brunt of repeated attacks from the militants who are at times aided by locals. Somalia has not had a stable government after the fall of Siad Barre who was overthrown by warlords in 1991 who then turned on one another.