Three robed women tricked their way into a Mombasa police station where they stabbed one officer and set fire to the building with a petrol bomb before being shot dead”, an officer and a witness said.

“Police also recovered an unexploded suicide vest from one of the attackers”, spokesman George Kinoti said in a statement.

The city of Mombasa, with a large Muslim population on the coast of Kenya, has been targeted by Islamist militants in recent years although the frequency of attacks has subsided.

Under the pretext of reporting a stolen phone, the women walked into the police station on Saturday morning, a knife and petrol bomb concealed in their traditional Buibui robes.

While being questioned by officers, one drew a knife and the other threw a petrol bomb at the police officers,” Patterson Maelo, Mombasa County Police Commander, told reporters.

The station caught fire. Police shot the three and killed them. Two officers are in hospital with wounds. Presumably it is a terror attack.”

Two bullet-proof jackets and an unused petrol bomb were recovered from the dead suspects, Coast regional commander Nelson Marwa told reporters.

Two separate police sources who asked not to be named said a woman who had housed the suspects the night before the attack had been arrested.