Nine beheaded in dawn knife attack in Kenyan village

Nine civilians were beheaded by al-Shabab extremists in a dawn knife attack in Kenya.

The Islamists, from neighbouring Somalia, invaded the southeastern village of Jima, Kenyan officials said Saturday, after a 12-hour battle with security forces three days ago.

It has sparked concerns that the group has taken up a bloody new strategy, officials added.

Beheadings by al-Shabab have been rare in Kenya, where the extremist group has carried out dozens of deadly attacks over the years.

The East African country has seen an increase in attacks claimed by al-Shabab in recent weeks, posing a security threat ahead of next month's presidential election, said James Ole Serian, who leads a task force of security agencies combating the terror group.

Kenyan emergency services Credit: AP

The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab has vowed retribution on Kenya for sending troops to Somalia in 2011 to fight the group, which last year became the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has not issued any statement on the recent surge in al-Shabab attacks.

Kenya is among five countries providing troops to an African Union force bolstering Somalia's fragile central government against al-Shabab's insurgency.

Of the troop-contributing countries, Kenya has borne the brunt of retaliatory attacks from al-Shabab.