NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 24 – Nairobi suffered a grenade attack early on Monday morning that left 14 people injured, in the wake of persistent warnings by terrorist group Al Shabaab which is protesting a Kenyan military offensive targeting them in lawless Somalia.
Police and witnesses told Capital News a hand grenade was hurled inside Mwaura’s pub located in a dingy lane off Mfangano Street in down town Nairobi at about 2am.
The victims were rushed to the Kenyatta National Hospital where they were admitted with injuries inflicted by shrapnel.
“We were called immediately it happened. We have been able to assess the damage and everything points to a grenade attack,” Nairobi Provincial Police chief Antony Kibuchi said at the scene.
Kibuchi said they had launched investigations to establish if the grenade attack was linked to the threats issued by Al Shabaab militants who have lately warned of reprisal attacks in the capital Nairobi.
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, who deny kidnapping foreigners, have repeatedly warned of bloody retaliation.
However the Kenyan police did not immediately link the pub attack to the threats.
“The investigations will reveal if it is linked to Al Shabaab, but as you know we have been on high alert since last week when the Al Shabaab started issuing threats. I cannot rule out their involvement,” Kibuchi said.
“Fourteen people have been wounded and rushed to hospital but there are those who escaped unhurt,” he said.
Nairobi Central divisional police chief Eric Mugambi said: “It occurred when a man who posed as a patron knocked the door and when it was opened for him, he just hurled a grenade at the patrons inside and fled.”
“Investigations have been launched, there is little we can say at this point,” he added.
When Capital News arrived at the scene, police from the Anti-Terrorism Police unit backed by sniffer dogs were carrying investigations and restricted movement into the club from curious onlookers.
We witnessed broken glasses and chairs turned upside down, with blood splattered all over the floor in the pub.
“I was seated here… suddenly I heard a loud blast and everyone was trying to get to the entrance. I jumped and managed to get outside. I was not wounded because I was not seated near where the grenade landed,” Jeremiah Kiarie, a matatu tout said.
At the Kenyatta National Hospital, the victims who had been rushed there were still receiving treatment at the emergency wing of the casualty department.
Most of them suffered injuries to the head, hands and legs. Six had heavily bandaged on their heads.
“I just walked in to have a drink before I went home because I was working overnight. That is when a loud explosion occurred,” Lawrence Kioko, a chef at a restaurant in the Karen suburb said.
“I have injuries on my legs and face,” he said, fresh blood still soaked on his shirt.
Another patron Emily Nyambura told Capital News she escaped with minor injuries since she had just stood up to go to the restroom when the explosion occurred.
“I have never been in a situation like that. The confusion and the screaming was just terrible. I don’t know how I came here,” she said and added that she suffered injuries on the legs but was among patients likely to be discharged.