Kenya grenade attack kills two

A grenade attack in Garissa, northern Kenya, killed two people on Saturday, hours after a U.N. aid convoy struck a landmine which failed to detonate in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp.

Kenya has been beset by a spate of attacks since it sent troops into neighbouring Somalia last month to crush al-Qaeda-linked rebels it blames for a wave kidnappings and cross-border raids.

“We heard a blast and saw a flash light up the area. I rushed to the site and saw two people lying in a pool of blood, dead. Three others were wounded and screaming for help,” Garissa resident Abdirahman Yussuf told Reuters.

A short while earlier, a bomb hidden in a bag was found planted beneath a power transformer opposite a military camp, eye witnesses said. It did not detonate.

Garissa is an important military base in Kenya, from where ground forces have been deployed across the frontier.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack.

Earlier on Saturday, a police-escorted UN convoy struck a landmine in the Dadaab refugee complex near the border with Somalia, underscoring the mounting threats facing aid groups and refugees in the camp.

The landmine did not explode, but the incident took place close to where two Spanish women working for the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontierès (MSF) were kidnapped last month.

“The police land-cruiser was escorting the morning UN convoy to Hagadera camp,” District Commissioner Ndambuki Muthike said, referring to one of the three camps at the refugee site.

“It ran over what was discovered to be a mine that had been partly buried in the sand and covered with a cooking pot.”

Security officials said it was not known who planted the device, which was set just a few hundred metres from a police post. Banditry is common in the area but landmines are rare.

The abduction of the Spanish MSF workers, who were taken into Somalia, was the third in a rash of attacks on Westerners in Kenya.

The kidnapping helped spur Kenya into deploying forces across the border, the latest country in a string of foreign powers to try and stabilise the Horn of Africa country that has been mired in violence for two decades.

Analysts warn Kenya’s incursion risks dragging it into a broader regional conflict.

Somalia’s al-Shabaab militants have vowed to bring the “flames of war” across the frontier in retaliation. Security experts have also voiced concerns the rebels would increasingly turn to softer targets, such as tourists and aid workers.

Dadaab, located about 100km from the Somali border, was set up in 1991 to house Somalis fleeing violence in their country. The camp’s population has swollen to more than 460 000 people this year because of famine in Somalia.

Separately, residents in the Kenyan border town of Hulugho said a gang of suspected Somali gunmen riding donkeys attacked the frontier post late on Friday. The raiders later crossed back into Somalia.

Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy, has long looked warily at its chaotic neighbour. Somali militants frequently launch cross-border assaults on border towns and Kenyan security forces. – Reuters

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