Five police officers have been killed and three others seriously injured after suspected Al-Shabaab militants attacked two security camps at Fino in Mandera County.
Lafey Deputy County Commissioner Eric Oronyi says the 1am attack targeted both Kenya Police and Administration Police camps in Fino town.
“There was an attack on the two security camps at Fino and, as we speak, five officers are dead and three others injured,” he said.
Mr Oronyi said the attackers, numbering between 70 and 100, arrived on foot.
The attackers first trained their guns on a Safaricom mast in Lafey town, ostensibly to disable communication between the officers and their bosses, before storming the camps.
“We suspect they divided themselves into three groups that aimed at AP and Kenya Police camps, and the communication mast,” he said.
He said the Kenya Police Reservists who guard the communication mast were overpowered by the heavily armed attackers.
“The communication mast (that was) being guarded by the police reservists was bombed and at the moment there is no (mobile phone) communication in Fino,” he said.
At the Kenya Police camp, three policemen sustained injuries and they were awaiting to be airlifted to Nairobi for specialised treatment on Friday morning.
Two of the three injured officers suffered broken limbs while the other was shot in the backside.
The county commissioner said the attackers also burned down several police houses in both camps.
Fino ward MCA Saad Sheikh Ahmed blamed senior security officials for the attack.
“We have asked the North Eastern regional coordinator to establish a military camp in this town but he is too slow to act. The military would have help avert the attack,” he said.
The MCA said the damage caused was huge, and that locals had been “plunged into darkness” after bombing of the mast.
“At Fino, locals depend on communication for business but now Safaricom is no more,” he said.
The MCA said locals are opposed to erection of more police camps in the area and want a military camp that has sophisticated weaponry.
“We are on the porous border with Somalia and the best the government can do is to set up a military camp to protect lives here,” he said.
The nearest military camp is located at Damasa— some 30 kilometres from Fino town.
Reinforcement would have come from the Rural Border Patrol Unit (RBPU) at Kabo, 20 kilometres away.
However, a security source, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to give press statements, said the RBPU officers feared leaving their camp unattended.
“There are few officers at RPBU Camp and the first thing is to protect your camp before responding to distress call. We could not tell if our camp was also targeted,” said the officer.
On February 15, officers at the RBPU Camp engaged the military in friendly fire, killing two soldiers along the Mandera-Lafey road.
On August 9, 2014, two policemen were injured at Fino Police Station after gunmen attacked at night.