Kenya has launched a nationwide manhunt after three "dangerous" inmates escaped from a high security prison, with the authorities vowing to punish those responsible for the jail break.

Interior Minister Fred Matiangi said preliminary investigations were still under way but that seven wardens at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison had been arrested in connection with the jail break on the outskirts of Nairobi.

No explanation has been offered into how Mohamed Ali Abikar, Joseph Juma Odhiambo and Musharaf Abdalla Akhulunga managed to escape the heavily-guarded facility yesterday.

All three have been charged with terrorism-related offences and one, Abikar, was serving 41 years for involvement in an attack that left 148 people dead.

Mr Matiangi said exit points along the country's border had been placed on high alert with fears the trio could try to slip out of Kenya undetected.

He blamed "recklessness" and "irresponsibility" for the prison break and said there were conflicting accounts about what occurred.

Abikar was found guilty in 2019 of being a member of Al-Shabaab and abetting the Somali jihadist group in the slaughter of 148 people at Garissa University in eastern Kenya in April 2015.

The victims, mostly students, were rounded up at dawn by gunmen and shot point-blank.

It was the second bloodiest terror attack in Kenya's history, surpassed only by Al-Qaeda's bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi in 1998 that killed 213 people.

Odhiambo, meanwhile, was arrested in 2019 for trying to enlist in Al-Shabaab while Akhulunga was detained in 2012 over a foiled attack on Kenya's parliament, police said.