, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 3 – Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti has said police have intensified an investigation into Saturday’s grenade attacks in Mombasa where two people were killed and dozens wounded.
Saitoti said several local and foreign suspects have been arrested and are being interrogated by Anti Terrorism Police Unit officers over the twin blasts that occurred in Mtwapa and Mombasa town.
“We certainly cannot reveal all that is going on in a sensitive investigation such as this one, but what I can tell is that we have arrested several people who are being questioned,” the minister said, declining to reveal further.
He however confirmed that some of the suspects in custody are Somali nationals suspected to be members of the Al Shabaab militia or those with links to the terrorist group.
“Let Kenyans know that our security forces are not sleeping on the job at all. There is a lot that is going on and you must not be told about everything that happens,” Saitoti said.
The minister was briefing journalists after receiving six vehicles donated by the British High Commission to boost the capacity of security agencies to fight terrorism in the country.
Kenya has been hit by a series of attacks blamed on the Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab which has vowed reprisals until Kenya withdraws its military from Somalia.
The latest attack occurred on Saturday night when suspected Al Shabaab militants hurled a grenade at a Christian gathering in the coastal town of Mtwapa, some 16 kilometres from Mombasa town leaving one person dead. A second victim passed on while undergoing treatment on Tuesday. More than 30 others were wounded.
A simultaneous attack occurred at a bar near Tononoka grounds where three people, including a police officer sustained injuries.
“We are grateful to the British government for their continued assistance in giving us vehicles among other forms of support and capacity building,” Saitoti said.
Acting British High Commissioner to Kenya Peter Tiber who presented the two Toyota Prados and four Toyota Probox vehicles said his country has a strong commitment to fight terrorism.
“The UK government has a strong commitment to countering terrorism. Through our close relationship with Kenya, we are together addressing threats to Kenyan citizens, to our own citizens and to others. This is a shared endeavour against a shared threat,” Dr Tiber said. “I trust these cars will provide the ATPU with increased mobility to respond quickly to incidents and to help prevent the destruction to lives and economies which terrorists seek.”
The British Government offers various other supports to the country’s security forces.
“These vehicles are in addition to other assistance we are providing to the ATPU, CID and others to prevent and investigate crime. We are also assisting to enhance the capability of the security agencies to patrol and monitor Kenya’s borders against Al Shabaab and international terrorism,” Tiber added before flagging off the vehicles at Vigilance House – the national Police Headquarters in Nairobi.
Tiber announced that Britain was keenly following developments of the police reforms in the country and urged President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to agree on a contested list of nominees of the National Police Service Commission to expedite reforms in the security sector.
He said the disagreement between the two principals was impacting negatively on police reforms and its implementation as outlined in the new Constitution.
“We urge the President and Prime Minister to agree on the nominations for the National Police Service Commission. We are concerned that this process keeps slipping. The National Police Service Commission will help the police improve the perception of fairness and standards within police ranks, raising morale in the process,” the High Commissioner said.
Once established, the commission will be responsible for putting the new policing structures in place, including appointing a new Inspector-General of Police.
“Urgent completion of that process is therefore critical,” Tiber said.
Odinga is contesting names of nominees sent to Parliament by President Kibaki, saying he was not consulted.
The nominees were recently vetted by a parliamentary committee which is expected to table its report in Parliament soon.
“I would like to assure our partners, particularly the British government who have been with us all along particularly in carrying out the police reforms that we are committed to ensure that the reforms are carried out with finality so that we can have a secure environment in the country,” Internal Security Permanent Secretary Mutea Iringo said. “We have enacted the necessary laws as recommended in Agenda IV.”
Iringo also announced plans to carry out a national police recruitment towards the end of next month to strengthen the security agency’s capacity in tackling crime ahead of the general election due later this year.