NAIROBI, Kenya, May 28 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has described Monday’s explosion in the centre of Nairobi as an act of terrorism, sharply contradicting Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere’s assertion that it was caused by an electric fault.
“This is an attack of terrorism. They have failed elsewhere and we know they are going to fail in our country,” Odinga said when he visited the scene on Moi Avenue, where at least 30 people were wounded when a powerful explosion went off at Assanand’s House.
He urged Kenyans to remain united and avoid shifting blame, assuring that security will be enhanced in the country.
“We should be in solidarity for the sake of our country. We should not shift blame. We should seek the way forward. We need to support our security forces,” the premier said. “We are urging our security forces to put more efforts to fight these terrorists.”
He added: “All the resources are going to be used to equip and train our forces and increase surveillance in the city. We will install CCTV’s all over the city to ensure we monitor what is happening.”
“The lives and property of Kenyans is precious… it must be protected. We condemn the terrorists and tell them that their days are numbered. Kenyans will succeed, the terrorists will not succeed.”
Odinga’s remarks contradicted an earlier statement issued by the Police Commissioner who denied the explosion was caused by an explosive device.
“Our preliminary investigation has shown it was not caused by a grenade or a bomb, we are trying to establish if was caused by an electric fault,” Iteere told journalists at the scene, raising doubts, based on the magnitude of the blast and extent of damage.
The explosion was felt in several buildings around the city and affected buildings nearby.
The Kenya Power company immediately issued a statement, disputing the Police Commissioner’s assertions that the blast was caused by an electric fault.
“The affected building has no ground mounted transformer inside it or outside that would explode,” the Kenya Power statement said.
The firm said its technicians and engineers had visited the scene and “found all the electrical connections to the building including the cut-outs (fuses) on the Kenya Power side that would otherwise blow in the event of a short circuit inside the building intact.”
“It is therefore not possible that the explosion was caused by an electricity fault,” the statement said.
Military officers and various units of the Kenya Police were still at the scene late on Monday trying to ascertain the exact cause of the blast that was heard as far as five kilometres away.
“The problem with our people is that when they hear a blast they run (to the scene). You see we are having a difficult time getting people out of here,” GSU Commandant William Saiya said.
Detectives from the Bomb Disposal Unit were seen collecting samples from the scene for analysis to ascertain the kind of explosive that hit the Kenyan capital.
“There is every reason to believe it is a bomb, we have seen a large crater where much of the damage was,” a police officer at the scene said.