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MOMBASA, Kenya (Reuters) - Three police officers were killed in eastern Kenya on Wednesday when their vehicle hit a landmine, a senior official said, in an attack claimed by Somali jihadist group al Shabaab.

The officers were part of a three-vehicle early morning patrol in the Somali border region when their truck hit the improvised explosive device (IED), North Eastern regional commissioner Mohamud Ali Saleh said.

"The police car ran over an IED and we have casualties. All the dead officers are from one work station," Saleh told Reuters, without revealing the number of wounded officers.

"From past incidences, it is easy to see that even this one is the work of our enemy, the al Shabaab. They plant these IEDs to target our security people."

The Kenyan Red Cross said on Twitter eight officers had been wounded.

"We are behind the attack in Liboi area. We destroyed the police car. Some died and others were injured," Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab's military operation spokesman told Reuters.

The Garissa county in which the incident happened has suffered several attacks linked to al Shabaab in the last few years, including a 2015 assault on a university in which 148 people were killed.

Al Shabaab, which seeks to topple Somalia's government and impose its own harsh interpretation of Sharia law, says it will continue to attack Kenya until Nairobi withdraws its troops from an African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

The police said on Tuesday they were on alert for an increase in violence after al Shabaab fighters were detected moving into Kenya in small groups.

"These groups are dispatching operatives into parts of North Eastern Region to lay IEDs along the routes used by our security patrols in efforts to frustrate our security operations at the border areas," it said.

(Reporting by Joseph Akwiri in Mombasa, Humphrey Malalo in Nairobi and Feisal Omar in Mogadishu; Editing by Clement Uwiringiyimana and James Macharia)

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