NAIROBI, Kenya, May 28 – Government officials contradicted themselves sharply over the cause of Monday afternoon’s blast at a building on Moi Avenue in Nairobi, which left 30 people wounded.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga was categorical that the blast was the “heinous work of terrorists” moments after Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere ruled out a bomb and blamed an electrical fault.
Iteere had told reporters at the scene that preliminary investigation showed the blast was caused by an electrical fault.
He played down fears it had been a bomb attack by Somalia’s Al-Qaeda linked Al Shabaab insurgents.
“We have been to scene of the incident and at this time we can be able to say that it was not a grenade or bomb blast. Form the preliminary investigations we do think it was electrical fault,” he said of the massive blast which took place at around 1.15pm local time.
But Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who visited the scene minutes later, blamed the blast on terrorists.
“Police officers should direct their energies at this very necessary cause and forget anything else. The life and property of Kenyans is precious we condemn the terrorists and tell them that their days are numbered… Kenyans will succeed,” Odinga asserted.
Internal Security Minister George Saitoti also joined Iteere in ruling out a grenade attack. He urged Kenyans against speculating on the cause of the blast.
“One should not be involved in speculation at this particular time because the speculation that is there right now does not indicate the actual cause of the explosion that took place. Investigations are ongoing and I don’t want you to speculate that the explosion was caused by the Al-Shabaab,” Saitoti told journalist at the Kenyatta National Hospital where most of the injured are admitted.
Ironically, he said security agencies were working around the clock “to pursue the perpetrators” and urged Kenyans to share information on people engaging in suspicious activities to the police.
The Kenya Power company faulted the police stand, arguing that there was no way the blast would have been caused by an electrical fault since the building does not have a grounded transformer.
“A rapid response technical team from Kenya Power visited the premises upon learning of the incident and found out that the affected building has no ground mounted transformer inside it or outside that would explode,” spokesman Migwi Theuri said.
Speaking to Capital FM News, Migwi said on the Kenya Power network that supplies the general area, no protective devices operated. Protective devices would switch off power network to prevent a fault in premises, such as the affected building from coming back into the rest of the network.“The team found all the electrical connections to the building including the cutouts (fuses) on the Kenya Power side that would otherwise blow in the event of a short circuit inside the building intact,” he said.
The Internal Security Assistant Minister Orwa Ojode was however cautious in his comment when he visited the blast scene. He called for calm as the police combed through the boutique for clues.
“Lets us be patient and wait for the investigations report. It will be premature for me to say whether the blast was caused by an electrical fault or an explosive or a terrorist attack,” Ojode told reporters at the scene of the blast.