Kenyatta calls for unity following deadly al-Shabaab attack

A massacre near the country's border with Somalia this morning left 36 quarry workers dead.

Security officers talk as they stand next to a mosquito net used by a worker who slept there at a quarry near Mandera, northeastern Kenya on 2 December 2014. Picture: EPA.

JOHANNESBURG - Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta says his country will not flinch in the wake of the latest deadly attack by al-Shabaab militants.

A massacre near the country's border with Somalia this morning left 36 quarry workers dead.

Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The group said its mujahideen fighters had killed 40 people, although the government and other Kenyan officials put the death toll at 36. As with other attacks on Kenyan soil, al-Shabaab said in a statement it was punishing Kenya for sending troops to Somalia with African forces to fight the Islamist rebels.

Gunmen crept up on dozens of workers as they slept in tents around the quarry at about 1am.

A witness said most victims were shot in the head and two were beheaded.

Kenyatta says he's asked the national assembly to extend its sitting to enable the country to deal with the issue conclusively.

The president says the war on terror requires a united effort.

"I call upon other arms of government to work with us and to seal all gaps that hinder the effective operations to secure the country."

Kenyatta has also announced that Kenya's police chief David Kimaiyo is quitting.

Kimaiyo says he's stepping down after criticism over insecurity in the region.

On 23 November a bus attack also took place on the outskirts of Mandera. In that case, militants ordered non-Muslims off the bus and shot them, while sparing Muslims.

Critics say Kenyatta has not done enough to secure the nation since al-Shabaab gunmen attacked Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall last year, an assault that left 67 people dead. A series of other al-Shabaab attacks have followed.

Additional reporting by Reuters.