Aerial picture showing smoke billowing from Pandaguo police post after being attacked by Al-Shabaab militants yesterday morning.
There was a fierce gun battle when suspected Al Shabaab terrorists attacked a police station in remote Pandanguo, Lamu County.
Pandanguo is about 50 kilometres west of Lamu town.
Assistant Inspector General of Police George Kinoti denied reports that three policemen were killed and nine others injured.
He said only one of the 19 police officers who were at the post was seriously injured, one could not be accounted for, and 14 were unharmed.
The seven-hour battle sent villagers fleeing into the bushes to escape from the retreating militants and aerial bombardments by army helicopters.
Two pupils found alive after Lamu blast
There were unconfirmed reports that two of the gunmen were killed in battle that saw the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) rush in to reinforce the beleaguered police post.
The fighting that erupted around 4.30am led to the closure of several primary schools including Kakate, Maleli, Rehema, Furaha, Sendemke, and Soroko.
The KDF border unit that had been sent to reinforce the police officers from Witu and Mpeketoni officers, who had responded to the distress call, arrived at about 11 am.
Witnesses said about 100 terrorists first held prayers at a local mosque before attacking the police post and setting it ablaze. They also raided a primary school and a dispensary and stole medicines, which they loaded into a stolen police vehicle.
Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet praised the officers for their bravery.
“The engagement is ongoing and we are waiting for more responses from the ground, but I can assure you they are facing a good team,” he said at 1pm, seven hours after the attack started.
The counterattack was slowed down by fears that the terrorists could have planted land mines on the roads.
Military helicopters were deployed to assist in locating the militants and to rescue the injured.
The retreating militants looted a nearby hospital and stole a police truck and ammunition from the station.
They first cut off mobile communication in the area by destroying a Safaricom mast. One police officer walked for over 22 kilometres to get reinforcements.
According to Director of Operations James ole Serian, two seriously injured police officers were found and have been airlifted to Manda for treatment.
He added that officers were pursuing the attackers, who escape into the Boni forest.
Villagers were not spared by the militants, who stole their food. Many were still in hiding.
The forest is now a no-go zone as security officers have taken it over. There were fears that there would be many civilian casualties.
“We are appealing to residents living in the forest to come out to make work easier for our security team that has moved in to hunt the attackers. This is to avoid having any Kenyan getting killed,” said Serian.
The attack comes 35 days after Kenya lost 16 officers to an explosive that had been planted along the Hindi-Basuba road.
On June 27, four pupils and four policemen were killed in Kiunga in an attack on a police vehicle that was carrying 19 Administration police officers and 15 civilians.