NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 24 – A second grenade attack hit downtown Nairobi on Monday night killing one person in less than 24 hours after another grenade was hurled inside a pub on Mfangano Street, leaving scores wounded.
At least 15 other people were hurt in the second attack and admitted to the Kenyatta National Hospital with various injuries sustained in the attack that occurred at the bustling OTC bus terminus.
“The information we have at this moment is that one person has been killed and several others have been taken to the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH),” Nairobi Provincial Commissioner Njoroge Ndirangu told journalists at the scene.
KNH Chief Executive Officer Richard Leresian later told Capital News that they had received 15 patients from the scene of Monday night’s blast.
“Of these 15, two are in a serious condition,” he told us on telephone from the hospital.
Police and witnesses told Capital News that the explosion occurred shortly after 8pm, as passengers were scrambling for public transport at the congested bus terminus located near the Salvation Army headquarters.
Guards and matatu drivers who witnessed the incident described the grenade attack as having caused “a loud blast which we easily thought was a tyre burst.”
“At first I thought it was a tyre burst but when I saw people running away and others screaming that is when I realised there was a serious problem. I saw many people screaming for help and they were taken to hospital by good Samaritans, but two were left at the scene,” James Mwaura, told Capital News at the scene.
Another witness Mary Wangare who runs a food kiosk nearby said: “I closed my shop when I heard the explosion and when everything went quite I peeped through the window and saw people being assisted. I hear one person has died.”
Earlier, in the early hours of Monday morning, the first explosion occurred on a dingy lane off Mfangano Street at a pub known as Mwaura’s that is mostly frequented by night clubbers from the public transport sector.
Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere told a press conference Monday afternoon that 12 people had been wounded in the attack.
Iteere said investigators were following crucial leads in search of a man who hurled a grenade inside the downtown pub in Nairobi early Monday morning.
Iteere told journalists that so far no arrests had been made in connection with the attack but investigators had been able to identify the type of explosion used.
“Our investigators have been able to identify the explosive as an F1 type grenade which is Russian made. These are things which are not used by our security forces here and it means it must have been brought in [the country],” Iteere said.
The police chief said no suspect had been arrested “but we are following crucial leads to get the attacker and the motive behind this.”
A hand grenade was hurled inside Mwaura’s pub located on Mfangano Lane in downtown Nairobi at about 2am, wounding 12 people.
The victims were rushed to the Kenyatta National Hospital where they were admitted with injuries inflicted by shrapnel. Some of them had been discharged from the hospital by midday Monday.
Asked what the security forces thought the motive of the attack was, the police chief said: “You all know that the Al Shabaab have their sympathisers here and probably may be these are the people we are dealing with.”
He was also categorical that the attack was a repercussion of the military offensive Kenya is undertaking in Somalia targeted at the Al Shabaab insurgents who have been blamed for high profile kidnappings of four European women seized from the Lamu island and Dadaab refugee camp, including that of Frenchwoman Marie Dedieu who died in the hands of kidnappers last week.
“We all know what is taking place. This is our second week in our engagement across the border and these are some of the things as a way of repercussions which we anticipated, it should not dampen our mode I think more than ever before this is the time to stand to be counted as Kenyans, all of us I think we are going to succeed,” the police chief said.
Al Shabaab insurgents have lately warned of reprisal attacks inside the capital Nairobi to protest the military operation targeting them in Somalia.
The US embassy in Nairobi warned on Saturday of an “imminent threat” of attacks possibly targeting foreigners, one week after Kenyan forces crossed into Somalia to hunt down the Al Shabaab fighters.
The embassy cited “credible information of an imminent threat of terrorist attacks directed at prominent Kenyan facilities and areas where foreigners are known to congregate, such as malls and night clubs.”
Last week, Kenya sent troops across its border with Somalia to hunt Al Shabaab insurgents it blames for the abduction of a British tourist, a disabled Frenchwoman – who has since died in captivity – and two Spanish aid workers.
The radical Islamist Al Shabaab, which denies kidnapping foreigners, has repeatedly warned of bloody retaliation.
On Monday, the police chief announced that security had been enhanced at vital installations in the capital, particularly at fuel storage facilities, malls and foot bridges which are likely targets for the insurgents.
Iteere said tight security measures had also been enhanced at the border areas, including at the Dadaab refugee camp where he revealed security forces had seized several AK 47 assault rifles.
“We are trying our best to secure our country as security forces but we also urge Kenyans to assist us the much they can,” he said.