NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 14 – It has now emerged that suspected terrorists behind the vehicle packed with explosives that was recovered in Merti area, within Isiolo County mid last month, were targeting Government and Judiciary buildings.
Detectives recovered 5 AK 47 rifles, 36 grenades, 37 magazines, 18 pairs of hand grenades, 7 84-millimeter projectiles, 85 kilograms of TNT – which is highly explosive – and more than a 1,000 rounds of ammunition.
Four suspects, all Kenyans, have since been arrested.
Of the four, detectives say two were found around the place where the vehicle was while the rest were facilitators based within the City.
“A Mitsubishi SUV was found hidden in a thicket, but when they (detectives) approached it, an individual came out of that vehicle, firing, but was liquidated,” Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet told journalists on Wednesday, during a briefing at the CID headquarters.
The owner of the vehicle has since been established.
The explosives had the capacity to kill people and bring down buildings within a radius of 250 metres.
If the Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) was not detected, Boinnet said “the consequences would have been very severe. This vehicle was to be used to stage a major terrorist attack in the city.”
“They were targeting a government building and judicial building at the time some proceedings were going on, probably, for the purpose of rescuing some of the people we are processing for terror offences.”
– Attack Objective Assessment –
The terrorists, other than killing innocent Kenyans, would have wanted to produce widespread fear, obtain worldwide, national, or local recognition for their cause by attracting the attention of the media and “harass, weaken, or embarrass government security forces so that the government overreacts and appears repressive”, the IG said.
They also wanted, “to destroy facilities or disrupt lines of communication in order to create doubt that the government can provide for and protect its citizens, discourage foreign investments, tourism, or assistance programs that can affect the target country’s economy and support of the government in power and influence government decisions, legislation, or other critical decisions.”
– Be vigilant –
The police boss is now calling on Kenyans to remain vigilant, since the threat of terror remains real.
He says though the entire cell that was behind the assembling of the vehicle have since been “uprooted”.
“We must be vigilant at all times. It is not solely the responsibility of security agencies. We must all join hands in the defence and protection of our mother land,” he said.
“For us, public safety and security is the key framework upon which everything else is built.”
Kenya continues to suffer from pockets of attacks by the Somalia based Al Shabaab militia, leading to hundreds of killings.
Kenya’s porous border remains its major undoing despite heightened security operations around and inside the war-torn country.
In 2013, Al Shabaab gunmen raided a shopping mall in the capital Nairobi killing 67 people, and in 2015 a similar attack on a university in Garissa left 148 dead.
Between June 15 and 16 2014 the same terror group launched a major attack in Mpeketoni area of Lamu County, claiming 60 lives.
In 2016, Kenya lost more than 100 soldiers after the terrorist overran their camp in El Adde.
Since 2007 Al Shabaab has fought to overthrow successive internationally-backed governments in Mogadishu but only began attacking Kenya in 2011 after Nairobi deployed its troops in Somalia to fight the militants.
Kenyan soldiers are now part of a 22,000-strong African Union mission fighting in Somalia.
The united forces are also piling pressure on the militants who have been largely weakened, but they are evidently capable of launching devastating attacks.
In October last year, the terrorists killed more than 500 people in Mogadishu, during an attack that involved a truck packed with several hundred kilograms of military-grade and homemade explosives.
The attack remains one of the most lethal acts in Somalia.