Three women dressed in head-to-toe robes (bui buis) have been killed at a police station in Mombasa, after they tried to launch an attack on authorities in the Kenyan port city.

The trio entered the police station under the guise of reporting a stolen phone on Saturday (10 September) morning. "While being questioned by officers, one drew a knife and the other threw a petrol bomb at the police officers," Mombasa County Police Commander, Patterson Maelo was quoted as saying by Reuters.

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

No organisation has claimed responsibility for the attack yet. Two bulletproof vests and a petrol bomb were reportedly found on the dead suspects.

According to Reuters, a woman who had sheltered the perpetrators the night before the attack have been arrested.

An unnamed police officer said told Agence France-Presse (AFP): "This is terrorism, they were definitely on a mission."

Another witness identified as Saumu said: "The women were shouting saying God Is Great, Allahu Akbar… then one of them threw something at the cops and that's when I ran away."

Coast regional commander Nelson Marwa said: "We already have crucial leads that will help in investigation."

Kenya is one of the leading countries combating al-Shabaab in neighbouring Somalia and is under constant danger of coming under attack from the militant Islamist group. The group has claimed responsibility for past attacks in Mombasa and other parts of the country, including the assault on Nairobi's Westgate shopping in 2013 which left 67 people dead.

It also said it was behind the raid on Garissa University in April 2015, during which 148 people were killed. Al-Shabaab says the attacks are in retaliation to Kenyan troops in Somalia.