(Updates with report of planned police operation targeting al-Shabaab sympathizers in sixth paragraph.)
Oct. 25 (Bloomberg) -- At least one person died after two bomb blasts in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, where police stepped up security after the U.S. Embassy warned the country faced an imminent attack as Kenya’s army continues an assault on Somalia.
An explosion at a bus station in the city centre at around 8 p.m. yesterday killed one person and left at least eight others wounded, Nelly Muluka, a spokeswoman for the Kenya Red Cross said in a phone interview from Nairobi. Earlier yesterday, a further 12 people were injured when a grenade was thrown into a bar in the downtown area, police spokesman Charles Owino said in a separate phone interview.
Police suspect that a hand grenade was also used in the second attack, Njoroge Ndirangu, provincial commissioner of Nairobi, said in an interview broadcast by Citizen TV.
Kenyan soldiers entered neighboring Somalia last week to combat al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda-linked rebel group the government blames for kidnapping tourists and aid workers in Kenya. Al-Shabaab vowed to retaliate against what it has called the “invading forces.” The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi said on Oct. 22 it received “credible information of an imminent threat of terrorist attacks” at sites in Kenya frequented by foreigners.
The blast at the bar was caused by a Russian-made F1 grenade, Kenyan Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere told reporters yesterday in Nairobi. Al-Shabaab hasn’t been linked to the attack and an investigation is continuing, he said.
Kenya is planning an operation “soon” that will target al- Shabaab sympathizers in Kenya who are raising funds for the militia, the Standard newspaper reported today, citing Iteere.
Two Kenyan fighter jets on Oct. 23 bombarded the Somali port city of Kismayo, an al-Shabaab stronghold about 500 kilometers (311 miles) south of the capital, Mogadishu, said Lieutenant-Colonel Mohamed Farah Dahir, a Somali army spokesman. An al-Shabaab commander died and two military vehicles were destroyed, Dahir said in a mobile-phone interview. Kenya’s army says it is working to help the Somali government defeat al- Shabaab.
“The strike occurred at a base in front of the Kismayo seaport where al-Shabaab has a military base,” he said.
Al-Shabaab denied it suffered any casualties in the assault. “Al-Shabaab has no base where they bombarded,” said Sheikh Abukar al-Aden, governor of the southern Jubbo region controlled by the militia. His comments were broadcast on Radio Andulus, an al-Shabaab-controlled broadcaster.
Somali government forces have advanced to within 7 kilometers of Afmadow, about 110 kilometers northwest of Kismayo, which they plan to capture before heading for the port city with the help of Kenyan forces, Dahir said.
Al-Shabaab has waged a four-year campaign to remove Somalia’s United Nations-backed government and controls most of southern and central Somalia. The country hasn’t had a functioning central government since the 1991 overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.
--Editors: Paul Richardson, Hilton Shone.
To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Ombok in Nairobi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson in Nairobi at email@example.com.