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Grenade Attack in Kenya Follows Threats From al-Shabab

  • Gabe Joselow

Pub-owner Charles Mwaura observes the bloodstained floor at the scene of a suspected grenade blast at his pub in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, October 24, 2011.

Pub-owner Charles Mwaura observes the bloodstained floor at the scene of a suspected grenade blast at his pub in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, October 24, 2011.

Kenyan authorities have increased security in the capital, following a grenade attack at a bar in downtown Nairobi that wounded 13 people.

The attack came after Somali militant group al-Shabab warned it would retaliate for an ongoing Kenyan military incursion into Somalia.

The blast tore through Mwaura's bar between midnight and 1 a.m. Monday morning. Hours later, blood stains could still be seen on the sink and a metal table just a few meters from where an unidentified assailant tossed the grenade.

Empty bottles of Kenya's Tusker beer were scattered on the floor of this working-class hangout. The neighborhood is close to the city's bus terminals, and its bars and hotels are buzzing with activity, even on Sunday nights.

Owner Charles Mwaura, taking a moment from talking with the detectives, said he would reopen the bar as soon as he had permission from the police.

“If you say that you quit because you've been attacked, its like saying -- if it is al-Shabab for example -- it's like saying they have won," said Mwaura. "You have to show them you are there. You cannot quit.”

Kenyan police said Monday that it was too soon to tie the attack to al-Shabab but warned people to be alert for suspicous activity. The al-Qaida-linked militant group has threatened to attack Nairobi as Kenyan troops push into Somalia in pursuit of the group's fighters, who have been blamed for recent cross-border kidnappings.

City police say the bar assailant used the same type of Russian grenade as was used in an attack on a Kampala-bound bus in Nairobi last year. Kenyan and Ugandan police have linked that attack to al-Shabab.

Recent threats from the militant group have made many Kenyans uneasy, evoking mixed reactions to Kenya's military involvement in Somalia.

But Charles Mwaura says he thinks his government is doing the right thing.

“And I believe they should not relent in pursuing them. They should pursue them," said Mwaura. "his (the bombing of his bar) is collateral damage, we can only say that. We support the government and what the government is doing. We support it fully.”

The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi issued an alert Saturday, warning of “an imminent threat of terrorist attacks” aimed at Kenyan targets including nightclubs.

Police have interviewed victims at the hospital, but none could identify a suspect.

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