NAIROBI — Kenyan officials say a bomb attack outside a police station in Nairobi late Wednesday killed four people, including two police officers. The incident came in the midst of a countrywide security crackdown against illegal immigrants and terror suspects.
Police investigators worked into the night Wednesday poring over the twisted and charred remains of the car destroyed in a powerful explosion outside the Pangani police station.
Shopkeeper Bosco Mugendi was serving a customer from his kiosk directly across the street at the time of the blast.
“It just went off. I heard a big sound like a thunderstorm, then I saw something like fire and smoke, which gave me a big blow and I just ran outside. I didn't even remember to close my kiosk," said Mugendi.
Two police officers were killed in the blast, along with the driver and another passenger.
Community police official Patrick Lumumba said the police officers were inside the car that was carrying the explosives, having pulled it over earlier for driving on the wrong side of the road.
“The two police officers entered in their vehicle followed by a patrol car and as they were coming to the police station it seems as if they had already put on everything ready, and at this place is when they detonated," said Lumumba.
Lumumba suspects the bombers may have been planning to attack a live television event taking place nearby, but were diverted by the two officers.
“The police are doing a good job and we still cannot relent. We want the police to continue, the only thing we will advise the police is when they suspect any vehicle, we need a thorough check even before the vehicle is taken to the police station," he said.
Kenyan police have been conducting a major security sweep targeting illegal immigrants across the country, following recent attacks blamed on Somali militants.
Pangani police station has served as a detention center for suspects caught in the dragnet, many of them from the predominantly Somali Eastleigh neighborhood. Detainees have complained of poor conditions and police abuse taking place inside.
On Twitter, Inspector General David Kimaiyo mourned the loss of the two officers and said the police will not relent in their fight against terrorism, writing “I fully declare war.”