ISIOLO, Kenya Dec 11 (Reuters) - Two bombs exploded in two Kenyan towns close to the Somali border on Sunday, in coordinated attacks that killed a policeman and were blamed on Somalia's Islamist al Shabaab rebels, residents and a senior police commander said.
The attacks appeared to target Kenyan security forces, who have been battling al Shabaab inside southern Somalia. Kenya, the region's biggest economy, has been plagued by a wave of low-level strikes since sending troops across the border eight weeks ago.
Leo Nyongesa, the police chief for Kenya's North Eastern province, blamed Sunday's attacks on the Islamist rebels, and said one police officer had been killed in one of the blasts.
Witnesses in the town of Mandera said a remote-controlled explosive device detonated shortly after a group of police officers took shelter under a clump of trees, a stone's throw from the porous frontier. Residents said police patrols frequently rest in that spot.
"I saw three injured officers in blood-stained clothes being loaded onto a police vehicle. Inside the vehicle was the lifeless body of another police officer," resident Ibrahim Isaack told Reuters by telephone.
Security forces fired into the air to push the crowds back from the blast site, Isaack said.
Minutes earlier, another explosive device buried in the ground close to an army camp in the town of Wajir blew up as a military convoy passed by.
"A jeep that was leading the military convoy was badly damaged. Its engine and entire front part was ripped off," local businessman Mohamed Omar told Reuters.
Omar said at least nine soldiers had been wounded. (Reporting by Noor Ali, Additional reporting by Daud Yussuf in Nairobi; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Alessandra Rizzo)