The violence was the latest in a string of clashes and police raids on Kenya‘s coast, a popular tourist region where Islamists and a separatist movement have increasingly battled with security forces.
“I can confirm 10 officers were seriously injured,” regional police chief Aggrey Adoli told AFP, saying the attackers may be Kenyan supporters of neighbouring Somalia’s Shebab, an Al-Qaeda linked insurgent group.
He said police had shot dead one of the attackers, while the other was killed by one of his own grenades.
The raid was carried out after a tip-off in the coastal Likoni region, just south of Kenya‘s main port Mombasa, and police recovered two firearms, two live grenades and ammunition, he said.
Kenyan police have in recent days launched a crackdown on members of the Mombasa Republican Council, a separatist group. On Monday two people were killed as police arrested MRC leader Omar Mwamnuadzi.
The MRC claims that the predominantly Muslim coastal region is not part of Kenya and says it has been neglected by the central government.
However Adoli initially ruled out any link between Wednesday’s incident and the MRC.
Suspected supporters of the Shebab — including Kenya’s Muslim Youth Centre (MYC) — have carried out attacks over the past year in Coast province, with bars and churches among their targets.
Shebab sympathisers have also attacked police in other parts of the country.
The outlawed MYC fiercely opposed Kenya’s invasion of southern Somalia last year to attack Shebab bases.
MYC leaders are accused by the United States and United Nations of supporting Somalia’s insurgents, including recruiting and fundraising for them.
Kenyan troops, now integrated into an African Union force, last month seized the Shebab bastion of Kismayo, a key southern Somali port, prompting warnings of retaliation from both the group and Kenya’s MYC.