ISLAMIC MILITANCY

Attacks in Mombasa followed by twin blasts on buses in Kenyan capital

Deadly explosions in Nairobi came a day after two attacks in the port city of Mombasa and as country prepares to welcome Chinese premier

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 May, 2014, 5:43am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 May, 2014, 6:30pm
AP

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Powerful explosions ripped through two passenger buses in the Kenyan capital yesterday, a day after twin attacks rocked the port city of Mombasa.

The blasts hit two buses packed with commuters along Thika Highway, said Moses Ombati, deputy police chief in Nairobi. He said one person was killed and several hurt. Another officer said at least 27 people were wounded, six of them critically.

Eliud Lagat, deputy head of the bomb disposal unit, said the blasts were caused by improvised explosive devices

Images shown on Kenyan television showed a red passenger bus with a large hole ripped out of its side, and a green bus with its roof and sided buckled by an explosion.

There was no claim of responsibility for the attack, although Kenyan authorities are engaged in a major security crackdown targeting suspected supporters of neighbouring Somalia's al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab rebels.

The attacks came as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang prepares to visit the country later this week as part of a four-country tour of Africa.

In Mombasa, at least four people were killed in a grenade blast in one of two explosions along the coast of Kenya on Saturday.

Authorities said the grenade blast at a bus stop also injured 15 other people. Separately, a bag with an improvised explosive device was spotted near the Reef Hotel in Nyali, and passersby noticed in time to take cover before it detonated, the Interior Ministry said. No fatalities were reported there.

Authorities said they did not immediately have an explanation for the explosions. A blasted-out bus sat at the scene of the Mombasa blast, and a man was spotted carrying away an injured child.

"Terrorists want to bring to an end our history of tolerance. Kenya will not allow it. Terrorists will be treated as the vicious criminals they are and our tradition of easy coexistence will be maintained," Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said.

Ranjit Sondhi, a director at the hotel, said that the hotel was not damaged and that the blast occurred on a nearby public beach - with much of the impact absorbed by a wall.

The Interior Ministry had initially said the explosion had taken place at a gate of the hotel, but ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka later clarified the blast had actually happened on the beach.

Kenya has been targeted by al-Shabab since it sent troops to war-torn Somalia in 2011. Kenyan troops are still posted in southern Somalia as part of an African Union force supporting the country's fragile internationally-backed government.

Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the high-profile attack on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall last year, in which at least 67 people were killed.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse