News / Africa

Kenyan Policeman Killed in Nairobi Grenade Attack

Kenyan police officers clean the scene where a police van was attacked at the Eastleigh neighbourhood in the capital Nairobi, 03 Dec 2010
Kenyan police officers clean the scene where a police van was attacked at the Eastleigh neighbourhood in the capital Nairobi, 03 Dec 2010

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Michael Onyiego

A Kenyan Police officer has been killed by an explosion Friday morning in Nairobi.

Early Friday morning an assailant reportedly threw a grenade or some form of explosive device into a Kenyan police vehicle which exploded, injuring those inside. Kenyan police have confirmed the attack killed one of the officers inside, injuring one and leaving two others in critical condition.

Reports indicate that no bystanders were injured in the attack. A local hairdresser, Jane Mbugua, was nearby when she heard the explosion.

Mbugua said the attack occurred around 8:30 am. She rushed to the scene where she found the injured officers lying on the side of the road next to the damaged vehicle. The officers were later rushed to a Nairobi hospital.

Police are now trying to determine the identity of the attacker. The motive of the blast is currently unclear, but Administration Police Commandant Kinuthia Mbugua said the attack could be the result of terrorism.

"This is a clear indication that terrorism is very, very real, globally and in our country," he said. "There are definitely a number of elements who are bent to cause terror to the members of the public and I would therefore appeal to the members of the public, particularly in this area of Eastleigh, to take it as their responsibility to report, because nobody can claim to be safe from terror activities."

Eastleigh is a neighborhood in Nairobi that has seen an influx of Somali communities in recent years. The area is so populated by Somalis that it is known as "little Mogadishu." There is growing concern of the influence of al Qaida-linked insurgent group al Shabab, which is battling the Somali government just beyond Kenya's northeastern borders. Al-Shabab has reportedly begun recruiting in Eastleigh for its struggle against the Somali government.

The attack occurred in Eastleigh's Section Three - an area which is less heavily populated by the Somali community. The commandant did not specify whether al-Shabab was responsible for Friday's attack, but the Police Anti-Terrorism Unit has reportedly launched an investigation into the blast.

Kenya is no stranger to terrorist attacks. In 1998 the US Embassy in Nairobi was hit by a truck bomb which killed hundreds and injured thousands more. The attack was carried out by local al-Qaida operatives, who simultaneously bombed the U.S. Embassy in neighboring Tanzania.

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