NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 14 – Police are looking for eight suspects who were planning to carry out a terrorist attack on Sunday, after they recovered a cache of deadly weapons in Nairobi’s Eastleigh estate.
Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe told journalists at the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit that the eight are believed to be accomplices in the intended commission of crimes using the ammunition recovered.
The eight are thought to be Kenyan and Somali nationals.
“We believe that they are involved in the process either as suicide bombers, advisors or as masterminds. Some of the explosives have remote detonation devices and therefore we believe that wherever they went, they would be in multiples so that in the event the suicide bomber developed cold feet the other one will detonate him,” said Kiraithe after displaying the arsenal.
He said the suspects were a 26-year old Kenyan and a Somali national aged 24.
Police have called on dealers in motor vehicle and bicycle ball bearings to scrutinise their customers carefully as the explosives recovered were made from the materials.
According to the police, one of the suicide bomb vests has a capacity of killing over 70 people.
“The bearings used are very lethal especially when mixed with explosives. These ball bearings which are used as projectiles are easy to find in the market and so we appeal those who stock them to adopt a ‘know your customer’ policy on any person buying these things in large numbers,” advised the spokesman.
The police spokesman said that Nairobi would have been the likely target although various other towns with large populations would have been likely targets.
“We do not have the hard evidence on the likely targets… we are thinking of the traditional terrorism targets, places which are overcrowded but certainly not only in Nairobi,” he insisted adding that additional care must also be taken in entertainment spots.
During the operation, police recovered six suicide bombs, 12 grenades, four AK-47 rifles and 481 bullets from a residential house in Eastleigh.
The suicide bombs had been mounted on vests attached with mobile phones and batteries, which police said would have ignited a series of explosions.
Detectives from the Special Crimes Prevention Unit and Flying Squad said they stumbled on the weapons as they pursued information of four suspects of Somali origin who had brought in rifles.
The weapons are believed to have originated Somalia. Six of the grenades are from China and the rest from Russia said the head of bomb disposal unit Eliud Lagat.
Each of the four rifles had four magazines with 30 bullets.