NAIROBI (Reuters) - Attackers blew up part of a hotel in northeastern Kenya, killing at least 12 people on Tuesday, in a raid claimed by al Shabaab militants from neighboring Somalia.
The group said it had set out to kill non-Muslims in Kenya's Mandera area - the scene of numerous assaults by the fighters seeking to overthrow Somalia's Western-backed government and punish Kenya for sending in soldiers to oppose it.
Rescuers pulled at least six survivors from the rubble and were searching for more, North Eastern Regional Commissioner Mohamoud Saleh said in a statement that did not name the attackers.
Twelve people died in the attack, he said. "The Government of Kenya condemns this act of terror and condoles with families and friends of the bereaved," he added.
Al Shabaab’s spokesman for military operation, Abdiasis Abu Musab, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the gunmen had targeted non-Muslims and killed 15 people.
"I counted nine bodies being removed from the building by colleagues, those dead could be more. Most of them had what looked like gun shot wounds and for others it seems rubble from the building had collapsed on them," said a police officer at the scene, who asked not to be named.
The attack took place hours after fighters from the group shot dead an intelligence officer in Somalia's capital Mogadishu. [nL8N1CV0VV]
"We have received some six people with injuries from the scene of the attack. Some have really lost blood, two are unconscious. We also received bodies of the dead but I was in the casualty wing and could not count how many they were," a nurse from Mandera County hospital told Reuters.
Al Shabaab killed six people as a work site in Mandera area earlier in October.[nL5N1CC0ED]
It has also struck deeper into Kenya, killing at least 67 people in an attack on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall in 2013.
(Reporting by George Obulutsa and Humphrey Malalo in Nairobi, Feisal Omar in Mogadishu and Joseph Akwiri in Mombasa; Editing by Andrew Heavens)