Africa

Kenya bomb blast: Police suspect terrorist attack

Simon Maina

Suspicions of terrorism have been raised after three explosions left at least six people dead in the Somali district of Nairobi.

An injured blast victim arrives at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi. (Reuters)

Three almost simultaneous blasts in the main Somali district of the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Monday left at least six people dead and scores injured, said police, raising suspicions of terrorism.

"We are here at a crime scene. Of course we suspect it is a terrorist attack," Nairobi police commander Benson Kibue told reporters.

"The injuries number 25 – they are in various hospitals – and we have retrieved six bodies," he said.

The three blasts targeted two small restaurants and a local clinic in a particularly densely populated area of Eastleigh, an area often known as Little Mogadishu because of its predominantly Somali population.

Police were still trying to establish the type of explosives used, with Kibue saying one of the blasts might have been a homemade bomb and other witnesses at the scene of the different attacks saying one or more grenades were thrown.

Eastleigh has in recent years been the scene of several explosions usually attributed by the police to extremists.

Rescue workers wanted to retrieve parts from bodies blown apart by the biggest blast, but police, present at the scene in large numbers, had cordoned off the area and were first searching it for further possible explosives, an Agence France-Presse photographer at the scene said.

Explosive-laden vehicle 
The blasts came as people made their way home for the evening, some stopping for a bite to eat.

The attack comes a week after six people died when assailants burst into a church in the Likoni district close to the port city of Mombasa and opened fire on worshippers.

The latest attacks have happened amid heightened warnings of a threat of Islamist violence in Kenya and despite boosted security in major cities.

A suspected assailant was killed on Sunday when an explosive device he was making blew up in his face.

The discovery earlier this month of an explosive-laden vehicle parked at a police station in a district of Mombasa, and the revelation that the police only searched it six days after impounding it and arresting its occupants added to the climate of insecurity.

Kibue assured the public that those behind Monday's attack will be brought to justice.

"Rest assured, whoever has done this thing, we will get them. There is no need to panic. We are on top of these issues," he said.

Series of attacks
Kenya has been hit by a series of attacks since sending troops into southern Somalia in October 2011 to battle al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents.

The Islamists claimed responsibility for the most deadly attack, in which they laid siege to Nairobi's upmarket shopping mall Westgate in September, killing at least 67.

Dozens of other smaller attacks, most of them in the capital, on the coast or in the eastern and north-eastern regions bordering Somalia, have been attributed to al-Shebab sympathisers. – AFP

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