Militants attack buses in Kenyan coastal region

A member of Kenya Defence Forces boards a truck in Garissa on April 3, 2014 (AFP Photo/Carl de Souza)

Mombasa (Kenya) (AFP) - Heavily-armed militants on Tuesday have attacked a convoy of passenger buses and their army escorts in the Lamu region of Kenya's Indian Ocean coast near the border with Somalia, officials and witnesses said.

The attack took place near the town of Mpeketoni, which has been the scene of previous raids and massacres carried out by the Somali-led and Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab Islamist group.

There were no immediate reports of any casualties.

"They used grenades and heavy guns. We came under intense attack. The bus was sprayed with bullets but it is a miracle nobody was hurt," an eyewitness, who asked not to be named, told AFP by telephone.

The witness said he was in a convoy on two buses plus an army and police escort. Kenyan security sources confirmed the attack and said a security operation was in progress, with a section of the highway between the main coastal city of Mombasa and Lamu closed off to traffic.

Earlier Tuesday, Shebab militants killed at least 14 workers in the northeastern town of Mandera, another area that has also seen frequent Shebab attacks.

In mid-June 2014 close to 100 people were killed in a series of armed assaults on the town of Mpeketoni and surrounding villages.

The attacks in Mpeketoni, close to the once-popular holiday island of Lamu, led to a collapse in tourism on Kenya's coast after foreign governments warned their nationals against travel to the area.