New Shebab attack in northeast Kenya kills four

Nairobi (AFP) - Four people died in a gun and grenade attack on Wajir town in northeast Kenya, the latest in a series of cross-border raids by Somalia's Shebab militants, officials said Wednesday.

Security sources said a group of at least four armed men threw a grenade at a small shop in the town on Tuesday night. They also opened fire before escaping on foot.

The attack is the fourth in five days in Kenya's remote and increasingly lawless northeast, which borders war-torn Somalia.

"The assailants killed four people and wounded three others who were inside the shop at the time of the raid," said county police commander Samuel Mukindia.

Local police said the shop caught fire, burning the bodies of the victims beyond recognition.

Somalia's Shebab militants claimed responsibility for the attack.

"We attacked Wajir and killed four. Such attacks will continue," said Abdulaziz Abu Musab, a spokesman for the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamists.

On Friday the convoy of the governor of Mandera, Ali Roba, was ambushed. Gunmen carried out a drive-by shooting in Mandera town on Sunday and on Monday a bomb was detonated at a nearby border post.

The recent string of attacks has so far claimed at least eight lives. On Monday Roba said the security situation in northeast Kenya was "extremely hopeless".

In November, Shebab gunmen held up a bus outside Mandera town, separated passengers according to religion and executed 28 non-Muslims. Ten days later 36 non-Muslim quarry workers were also massacred in the area.

Shebab has threatened to continue its attacks until Kenya pulls its soldiers out of Somalia, where they are part of an African Union mission aimed at defeating the insurgents and protecting the internationally backed government in Mogadishu.