NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 12 – A man whose photograph police circulated last December on suspicion of having terrorism links is among four suspects who are being held over Saturday night’s grenade attacks at the Machakos Bus Station.
Sylvester Opiyo aka Musa Osodo was arrested on Sunday alongside three other young men aged between 13 and 16 years who were found assisting Opiyo’s sister to move into a house in Nairobi’s Umoja estate, according to police and his lawyer.
“It is the same Sylvester Opiyo who was arrested on Christmas Day after the police alluded that he was dangerous and he (at the time) presented himself to the police and he was later released,” his lawyer Chacha Mwita said. “He has a case in Kibera on Al Shabaab claims.”
The lawyer told Capital News on Sunday: “What I know is that they were assisting Opiyo’s sister to shift house to Umoja and then they were offloading the items, the police pounced on them.”
The suspects were being interrogated by various specialised units of the police, including officers from the Anti Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU), a police source said.
Nairobi Provincial Police chief Antony Kibuchi on Monday confirmed the arrests but did not provide more details.
“On the Al Shabaab threats and attacks at the Machakos bus terminus, four highly suspected criminals were arrested and are undergoing intensive interrogation,” the police chief said.
The lawyer said he had been denied any access to the suspects.
Mwita protested that the three minors were interrogated in the absence of a lawyer.
“All the minors were interrogated and statements recorded, whereby their finger prints and photographs were taken without the presence of their lawyer or guardian as required by the Children’s Act,” he said.
He said one of the minors was due to join Form One while the other is already in high school.
“He had a Kiswahili assignment that he was to do but he is now spending the night at the Kilimani Police Station,” the lawyer protested.
Police took away two mobile phones from Opiyo, an Identification card and some Sh200 he had with him at the time of the arrest.
Police also took away a mobile phone and ear phones from one of the minors. The other two minors did not have anything on them at the time of the arrest.
Six people were killed when four hand grenades were hurled at a crowd in the bus terminus, and more than 60 others wounded.
Most of those wounded were treated at the Kenyatta National Hospital and discharged after showing signs of improvement. At least 42 others were still admitted there by Monday morning, according to figures provided to us by the police.
Police appealed to city residents to remain vigilant in the wake of the fresh threats of terrorism.
In December last year, Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe circulated Opiyo’s photograph alongside that of another man described as dangerous at the time.
The men surrendered soon after their photographs were circulated and were accompanied by their lawyer Mwita to the ATPU offices where they were interrogated and later set free. No charges were preferred against them.
Police had at the time said that the two were planning to commit terrorism-related attacks in Nairobi.