Three arrested over Eastleigh bombing

NAIROBI, KENYA (Standard Digital) - Police are holding three Kenyans over the bombing on Sunday of a minibus that claimed 10 lives in the business hub of Eastleigh in Nairobi.

The three are alleged to have been behind the delivery of the improvised explosive device that ripped apart the minibus and tore into its 40 passengers.

Police have also warned Kenyans that the suspects’ accomplices are planning more deadly attacks in the city.

Nairobi Area police boss Moses Ombati said detectives charged with monitoring terrorist activities say the group planned to attack supermarkets, churches, markets and other social places.

He also appeared to echo a view expressed by the Internal Security Minister Katoo Ole Metito that there could be a political hand in the attacks that have rocked the country.

On Thursday, the Cabinet chaired by President Kibaki condemned the spate of attacks by suspected terrorists.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga also condemned the Eastleigh incident and warned that the Government would not allow terrorism take root in the country. “All necessary steps should be taken to fight against forces that are out to create insecurity in the country,” said a Cabinet statement released after the meeting.

“As a Government we will not abdicate our responsibility to provide security to people and their property,” said Raila.

The PM made the remarks in Eastleigh where he had gone to console those affected by the bombing of the minibus in which people also lost property worth millions of shillings.

Raila who arrived in the country today after a weeklong official visit to Malaysia and Korea also lashed out at the attacks against members of the Somali community that followed the bombing of the minibus.

He appealed to all Kenyan communities to live peacefully together, saying they should enjoy equal rights irrespective of their ethnicity. He said, “Our diversity is should be our source of strength and not weakness.”

The Prime Minister especially called for religious tolerance among people of different faiths saying terrorism transcended religion, race, and tribe. He said criminals must be treated as individuals not as members of a tribe by apportioning blame to their tribes.

The killing shocked many Kenyans leading to inter-ethnic violence, looting and damage of property worth millions of shillings.

Many youth arrested following the violence were held in police stations until Wednesday, when a Kibera court released them.

“We have to exercise caution all the time because the gangs are here and planning attacks even as police also try to tame them,” said Ombati.

Trained for terror

He said they arrested more than 80 suspects for rioting following the bombing of the bus on Sunday. The suspects have since been charged before court and released on bond.

Ombati said the explosive used in the Eastleigh attack was assembled in a house in Majengo.

He said the three men in custody had been coached and recruited into a terror cell.

Ombati said three main planners and mentors of the Eastleigh attack are at large, but police are pursuing them.

He revealed that the attackers were using a motorbike on the material day before one of them boarded the bus and abandoned the explosive inside.

The matatu was headed for Kariobangi and had picked up 25 passengers from Eastleigh when the explosion went off near St Teresa’s area.

Ombati said investigations have shown the attackers trailed the matatu on a motorbike up to the point where their accomplice alighted and later detonated it using a remote device.

“These people assemble the bombs in houses and are known to Kenyans. We urge Kenyans to be cautious and cooperate with the security agencies in efforts to tame the terrorism.”

He also urged matatu operators to take measures and always screen passengers for weapons before they board. Ombati made a similar appeal to learning institutions and other social areas to take measures to deter terror attacks.

“The terrorists are spending days and nights planning to attack us and the public in general. We must take measures to address the problem because it is here with us for now.”

The Sunday explosion sparked protests in the area with some residents targeting the Somali community accusing them of harbouring terrorists.

Businesses were affected in the busy larger Eastleigh area for two days as police battled with criminal gangs that looted and robbed homes, business and pedestrians.