NAIROBI, Kenya — A suspected Islamic extremist grabbed a rifle from an officer and attempted to shoot his way to freedom from a military camp where he was being held in Garissa in eastern Kenya, an official said Tuesday.
The suspect snatched a rifle from one of the officers and tried to escape, Garissa County coordinator Mohamud Ali Saleh said.
Hundreds of officers cordoned off the area and engaged the suspect in a shootout until he ran out of bullets and was arrested, said Saleh. The suspect was injured and has been hospitalized, said a police source who insisted on anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press.
The incident caused panic in Garissa where memories are still fresh of the killings of 147 people in a university that was attacked on April 2 by four gunmen. Somali extremist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for that attack, saying it was retribution for the Kenyan military presence in Somalia.
Kenya has stepped-up security following extremist attacks in Paris, France Friday night that left at least 129 people dead and ahead of Pope’s Francis visit next week.
Kenyan police chief Joseph Boinnet warned recently that al-Shabab may be planning an attack. Kenya has experienced a wave of attacks since it sent it forces to fight al-Shabab militants in Somalia in Oct 2011, following a series of cross-border attacks blamed on al-Shabab.