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Grenade attacks leave 3 dead in Garissa

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 25 – Three people were killed and scores others wounded in twin grenade attacks which rocked the border town of Garissa on Thursday night.

The attacks at congested places in the town occurred at about 8pm, within hours of similar attacks targeted on security forces in Liboi and Mandera where a soldier was killed in a landmine blast.

In the Thursday night twin blasts, two people were killed when a grenade was hurled at Holiday Inn where people were watching news. The third person died on a congested street known as Ngamia Road near a church.

Twenty seven people were wounded in both explosions, 12 of them seriously, police said.

“Three people were killed in these explosions and there are others who are admitted to hospital,” Leo Nyongesa, the North Eastern Provincial Police commander said.

“We have mobilised all our security forces to the area to restore security. We want to assure the people that we will get them [attackers]. We believe this is the work of Al Shabaab,” he said.

Kenyan officials have blamed the hardline Al Shabaab or their sympathisers for a spate of recent shootings and bombings, although armed bandits also operate in the border areas.

Nairobi sent troops and tanks into neighbouring Somalia in mid-October to fight Islamist insurgents who it accuses of staging a series of attacks on Kenyan soil.

The extremist militia faces growing pressure as regional armies slowly encircle them, with Kenyan forces in the south, Ugandan and Burundian African Union forces in Mogadishu and Ethiopian troops in the west.

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The conflict however comes at a cost for civilians caught up in the skirmishes.

The United Nations warned Thursday that Ethiopia’s reported deployment of troops into Somalia could worsen what is already the world’s most severe humanitarian crisis.

President Mwai Kibaki on Friday traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to attend the 19th Extra-Ordinary IGAD Summit of Heads of State and Government which will address the political and security situation in Somalia.

The President’s office in Nairobi said the summit will also discuss the outstanding issues of the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and the renewed tension between the North and South Sudan.

“President Kibaki will update regional leaders on the operation Kenya has undertaken inside Somalia to deal with militants who have sought to destabilize both Kenya and the region,” the President’s office said in a statement.

“Local sources in Somalia report that hundreds of Ethiopian troops entered Somalia on November 20 opening a new front against Al Shabaab,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a report.

“The humanitarian community is deeply concerned about the consequences that this intervention could have on the already fragile humanitarian situation due to access to the population,” the report warned.

“The intensification of the conflict in Somalia threatens to increase internal displacement,” it added, the first time the United Nations has warned of the potentially dangerous consequences of Ethiopia’s move.

Some 250,000 people in south and central Somalia face imminent starvation, the UN report added, despite massive international efforts to get emergency aid out to critically affected regions of the war-torn country.

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