NAIROBI, October 30 – Police on Thursday impounded a Mandera-bound passenger bus on Thika road and recovered 604 electrical bomb detonators.
The cargo owner, the bus driver and turn boy were arrested and the detonators taken by Bomb Disposal Unit (BDU) personnel based at the CID headquarters for further examination.
Police said they erected roadblocks on Thika road following information from Intelligence Officers that a bus destined for Mandera and Wajir was ferrying the detonators.
“Our officers acted on a tip-off that the detonators were being transported. We stopped the bus and upon conducting a search, the detonators were found concealed in a bag,” Kasarani divisional police chief Jasper Ombati said.
A man who identified himself as Muhammed Bare owned up and said the cargo belonged to him. He was immediately arrested alongside the bus crew.
Police said the bus crew would be interrogated and released. More than 60 passengers in the bus were left stranded after the bus was detained at Kasarani police station.
“We are much interested with the cargo owner. We want him to tell where he got these things and where he was taking them. These detonators are very dangerous,” he said.
If connected well, he said, the electric bomb detonators can do a lot of harm. “The suspect has owned up and he says he was transporting them to Mandera. He will be subjected to thorough interrogation because we want to get more information,” Ombati said adding that the suspect had evaded arrest on several occasions.
The arrest comes as the government is undertaking a major joint military operation in Mandera following inter-clan clashes, which have led to the killing of 24 people, including two Administration Police officers and an army officer.
The operation begun on Wednesday and police announced they had arrested 849 suspects and recovered 38 assault rifles and grenade launchers used by bandits and other organised gangs in the region.
Inter-clan clashes reported in the region in the past three weeks have also led to the displacement of hundreds of families.
Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe said the operation was successful and vowed it would continue until law and order is restored at the frontier town.
“The purpose of the operation is to recover all illegal firearms and prosecute suspects of murder and other criminal acts,” he said.
Kiraithe said the operation was being carried out by a combined force of the police and military personnel who have also sealed off border points to bar the suspects from crossing over to Ethiopia or Somalia.
A local leader who spoke to Capital News from Mandera however, accused the police of victimising many innocent people.
He said officers carrying out the operation were beating up everybody, including innocent people.
“We support the operation but the mode they are using is not human. Many innocent people are suffering. They are torturing people and forcing them to show them where guns are kept,” Hassan Mohammed, a local leader in Elwak said in a telephone interview.