GUNMEN have killed two female employees of a technical university on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast in a suspected extremist attack, police said.

The assault in Ukunda, near Mombasa, occurred as President Uhuru Kenyatta campaigned in the coastal region for the rerun of presidential elections this month.

The gunmen, suspected to be al-Shabab rebels from neighbouring Somalia, sprayed a vehicle carrying university staff and police with bullets near the campus, said Larry Kieng, the region’s police chief.

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Ukunda is 19 miles south west of Mombasa, Kenya’s second largest city.

Two staff members of the university were killed in the attack, said Mwangi Kahiro, acting county commissioner for Kwale County.

The incident recalled the attack on Garissa University in eastern Kenya in April 2015 in which four gunmen killed 148 people, most of them students.

Somalia’s al-Shabab militia has been carrying out attacks in Kenya as retribution for Kenya’s deployment of troops in Somalia to fight the rebels.

Kenya is one of six African countries that contribute troops to the African Union force in Somalia to fight al-Shabab, which is waging an insurgency against the UN-backed government to establish a state based on strict Shariah law.

Al-Shabab is the most potent threat to east Africa’s stability.