ISIOLO, Kenya (Reuters) - Four members of Kenya's police force and two civilians were killed in an ambush on Tuesday by suspected Somali Islamist militants near the Somali border, a senior official said.
Two suspected members of Somalia's al Shabaab group were also killed in the fighting, Garissa County Commissioner Rashid Khator said. The clash occurred near Liboi, a Kenyan town in the Garissa region about 15 km (10 miles) from the border.
Al Shabaab has staged several raids targeting police and others in the border area in the past, and in September its militants attacked a Nairobi shopping mall, killing at least 67 people.
The group said the Nairobi assault was to demand Kenya withdraw its troops from Somalia, where they are part of an African peacekeeping force that has fought the Islamists.
"Our officers were ambushed as they left Liboi on their way to Dadaab. They battled and killed two al Shabaab (militants) who staged the attack," Khator told Reuters. Two other police officers were missing, he said.
Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the ambush. It said it had killed eight members of the security forces and burnt vehicles.
Dadaab is the site of a vast camp for Somali refugees, who have fled over the years from the fighting and chaos at home.
In May, al Shabaab said its fighters had killed eight Kenyans, including a policeman, in a cross-border raid and had taken two captives into Somalia in the raid.
(Reporting by Noor Ali, additional reporting by Abdi Sheikh in Mogadishu; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Larry King)