By Joseph Akwiri
MOMBASA, Kenya (Reuters) - Seven police officers and a civilian were killed on Wednesday when their truck hit a landmine on a road along Kenya's northern coast, a police report said, the latest deadly attack by Somali Islamist insurgents.
The vehicle was heading towards Mokowe, near the popular island resort of Lamu, according to the police.
"Their bodies have been airlifted," the report said. "KDF (Kenya Defence Forces) officers are combing the area."
A spokesman for Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.
"We targeted a convoy of Kenyan soldiers near Lamu area with a roadside bomb. One car got destroyed and those on board did not survive," Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, told Reuters by phone.
Last week, three roadside bombs killed 11 police officers in attacks along Kenya's long northeastern border with Somalia. Al Shabaab also claimed responsibility for those attacks.
Al Shabaab, which has launched devastating attacks on civilians in Kenya, says it is fighting because Kenya sent troops into Somalia in 2011 after a string of attacks and kidnappings on Kenyan soil. The Kenyan soldiers are in Somalia as part of a 22,000-strong peacekeeping force intended to shore up the weak U.N.-backed government.
Somalia has been riven by civil war since 1991, when clan warlords overthrew a dictator then turned on each other.
(Additional reporting by Humphrey Malalo in Nairobi and Feisal Omar in Mogadishu; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Andrew Bolton)