Monday, November 07, 2011

Kenya Suspects Al-Shabaab Behind Attack in North

Kenya suspects Al-Shabaab behind attack in northern Kenya

By Stephen Ingati and Christine Lagat

GARISSA, Kenya, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's authorities are blaming the Saturday night attack in which two people were killed and three others seriously injured in northern Kenya on Somali militia Al-Shabaab's sympathizer.

The attack which took place on Pentecostal Church in Garissa town near the Kenya-Somalia border injured a grand mother and her two grandchildren when the attackers hurled a grenade at the church compound.

Another bomb thrown targeting Kenya Power's transformer within the town center failed to explode. Both incidents happened at about 9 p.m. local time (1800 GMT).

Al-Shabaab have staged isolated attacks in Nairobi and the north eastern regions, which were interpreted as attempts to retaliate against the incursion.

These attacks have exacerbated security concerns among Kenyans and threaten to affect the country's tourism which is one of the leading foreign exchange earners for the east African nation.

The Pastor of the Church Reverend Ibrahim Makunyi said he was in his house about 100 meters away when he heard the explosion.

"I was in my house which is about 100 meters from where the incident took place (the house of my church elder) which is located right at the entrance of the gate. At first I thought it was an electric shock but on rushing at the place I noticed that it was a grenade that had been hurled in the house," Makunyi told Xinhua on Sunday.

He said the bombed house belonged to the church elder and was situated near the entrance to the church. "One of the killed John Gikabu, 20, was a choir member and the other, Mwendwa Mutinda, 8, is the son of the church elder," he said.

Regional security analysts say the northern Kenya has posed a security nightmare beginning with the Shifta War of the 1960s, which was triggered by a secessionist movement.

As a result, the region which is marginalized has been continually a security operation zone necessitating a special administration arrangement.

A witness of the Saturday night attack said she heard the attackers saying "na bado. Ni mwanzo tu," Swahili for "it is just the beginning."

"I was also within the compound doing some other stuff when I heard the loud bang, I completely rushed at the area of the scene to see what had exploded, things happened so quickly and the only thing I remember is hearing some people running as they laughed saying in Swahili Ni mwanzo tu na bado (it is just a start there are more to come)."

"I could personally not see them since there was a power blackout," said a woman who only identified herself as Lydia.

Military officers who rushed at the area of the scene also managed to take the other grenade that had still not exploded.

Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, an umbrella organization for Muslims (Supkem Garissa) chairman Abdullahi Salat condemned the attack on the church, saying it would sow seeds of discord among Muslims and Christians who live in harmony.

Regional administrator James Ole Serian said investigations have started to get to the bottom of the matter and promised to bring those involved to book.

"I want to assure the locals in Garissa town and the province at large that they are well protected and they should continue doing their normal businesses just like before," Ole Serian told Xinhua.

"There is no need to worry, we will make sure that these criminals who are out to harm innocent citizens are brought to book, we will look for them in their hideouts," the administrator said.

Speaking from the hospital bed, the injured Rachel said the explosion happened when they were having meal while watching television.

Area lawmaker Aden Duale called on the local security committee to investigate the incident that he termed as inhuman and cowardly and urged the public to cooperate with the government and alert police of any strangers in the area.

"We should be concerned with what happens around us. The Al- Shabaab have recruited Kenyans and we should be accurate with the kind of information we are giving out," he said.

Duale urged the provincial security team to ensure that everybody in the well protected and they should go about their businesses without fear or intimidation.

"It is their duty to make sure that everybody in this town and any other town feel secure, those who were involved in this incident must be brought to book otherwise they have no business being around if they cannot perform their duties," said Duale.

Al-Shabaab have promised retaliatory attacks to protest Keya military operation in Somalia.

The incident occurred a few hours after an explosive device believed to be anti-personnel mine (landmine) failed to explode when a police vehicle stumbled on it in Hagadera, near the Kenya- Somali border, in another terrorist attempt.

There was panic as police cordoned off the area to wait for experts to immobilize the device. Police now believe criminals who planned the attack are in the country.

Recently, a police truck, ferrying officers from the elite paramilitary wing, the General Service Unit (GSU), was targeted by the Al-Shabaab operatives.

Kenyan forces are hunting down the Al-Shabaab militants inside Somalia to stop further incursions into Kenya.

The east African nation blame the grenade attacks and kidnappings to Somali Al-Shabaab Islamists.

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