News / Africa

Grenade Attacks Rock Downtown Nairobi After Al-Shabab Warning

Policemen secure the scene of a deadly grenade explosion in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, October 24, 2011.
Policemen secure the scene of a deadly grenade explosion in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, October 24, 2011.
Gabe Joselow

Kenyan officials said Monday that one person has been killed and at least eight others wounded in a second suspected grenade attack in downtown Nairobi in 24 hours. The attacks follow recent threats against Kenya from the Somali militant group al-Shabab, but police have not yet named any suspects in the attacks.  

The attack Monday night was near a crowded bus terminal in downtown Nairobi.  The area is full of small businesses and often is packed with people traveling in and out of the Kenyan capital.

A witness described the attack through a translator. “He says he was standing here and then a small vehicle passed by, and then there was a loud bang.  He thought it was a tire burst but, unfortunately, it was a bomb, a hand grenade," he said.

Another witness said it appeared that the attacker tried to lob a grenade into a bus window but missed, and the explosion struck those standing on the street nearby.

The bus terminal is not far from the scene of another attack on Sunday night that injured 13 people at a working class bar.  No suspects have been identified.

The al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab has threatened to strike Nairobi as Kenyan troops push into Somalia in pursuit of the group's fighters, who have been blamed for recent cross-border kidnappings.

Nairobi Provincial Commissioner Njoroge Ndirangu, on the scene of Monday's attack, said it is too soon to attribute the violence to al-Shabab. “You have heard there have been various and several threats from all areas.  For now, we are saying it's criminal.  It doesn't matter which group.  But exploding a device on innocent people is a crime and that crime will be dealt with when we establish who was behind it," he said.

Kenyan police have urged the public to remain vigilante and to report suspicious activity.

The U.S. embassy in Nairobi had issued an alert on Saturday, warning of “an imminent threat of terrorist attacks” aimed at Kenyan targets, including nightclubs and places where foreigners gather.

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