By Humphrey Malalo


NAIROBI (Reuters) - Suspected Somali Islamist militants killed five police officers in an ambush in northeastern Kenya on Tuesday, according to police sources, the latest in a string of deadly attacks.


Around 100 suspected insurgents stole the officers' weapons and torched their vehicle during the attack in Alijize in Garissa county, according to a police official who asked not to be named. Two officers survived the ambush, although one was shot in the thigh.


Somalia's al Shabaab militants have claimed a series of cross-border attacks in recent months, including a spate of roadside bombings targeting security forces and a mass beheading of non-Muslim civilians in Kenya's coastal Lamu district.


Al Shabaab say the raids are retaliation for Kenyan security forces operating in Somalia, but Kenyan officials say al Shabaab launched raids and kidnappings on their territory long before Kenyan soldiers entered Somalia in 2011.


(Reporting by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Janet Lawrence)