Monday, June 25, 2012

One Dead in Attack at Mombasa Nightclub in Kenya

One dead in terror attack at a Mombasa nightclub

By MARK AGUTU and Fred Mukinda
Posted Monday, June 25 2012 at 00:49
Kenya Daily Nation

•Patrons were watching European championship soccer match between Italy and England

At least one person was killed and several others injured in a grenade attack in a bar and restaurant in Mishomoroni estate in Mombasa on Sunday night.

The attack occurred at around 10p.m. at Jericho Beer Garden in the sprawling Mombasa estate.

The dead man and the injured were at the outer section of the bar dancing to the beats of ohangla music when the explosion occurred in three successive rounds.

The inner section of the pub was full of patrons who had gathered to watch the European championships football match between England and Italy.

Police said one person died, but St John Ambulance personnel who helped with rescue efforts put the number of fatalities at three.

The attack happened a day after US Embassy issued warning of an imminent terror attack on Mombasa.

Witnesses said they heard three loud explosions followed by screams.

Nation journalists arrived at the scene and found a rescue team picking the injured and rushing them to Coast General Hospital.

The scene was littered with debris of broken bottles and crates of beer.

Police immediately cordoned off the area marking it as a crime scene and picked the body of the young man who was killed in the explosion.

A witness Mr Emmanuel Omondi told the Nation he was in the pub and had escorted a friend who was leaving and had just walked a few steps away when he heard the explosions.

“At first I thought it was the transformer which had blown up because it has been having problems. But immediately thereafter I heard a second blast and then a third one,” he narrated.

He said the man who died in the explosions was one of those who were on the dance floor.

He and other patrons who escaped unhurt helped carry some of the injured to matatus that rushed them to hospital before the St John Ambulance team arrived.

Provincial Police boss Aggrey Adoli arrived at the scene with a team from the Anti-Terrorism, Police and Criminal Investigations Department officers and helped seal off the area.

A nine year old boy was among the injured. Nation counted 13 injured, some with serious injuries.

Mr Adoli could not confirm whether it was a terrorist attack and said police could not link it to the American alert since it targeted locals and not American citizens.

He told Coast province residents not to panic saying the security situation was not alarming and was still in control.

“An explosion like this one can occur anywhere because perpetrators can be elements within society,” he said.

A witness told Nation that he saw two men and a woman arrive at the pub in a Toyota Rav 4 car, and shortly afterwards the blast occurred and the vehicle sped off at high speed.

A residential house next to the pub had part of its roof ripped off from the impact of the blasts.

The Mombasa attack follows an alert issued on Saturday by the US embassy warning Americans to leave Mombasa immediately.

The Kenyan government had reacted angrily to the advisory, with the chairman of the National Security Advisory Council (NSAC) and Head of Public Service Mr Francis Kimemia terming the alerts by the US as “a betrayal of trust” after the two governments had earlier agreed that there no alerts would be issued.

Mr Kimemia said Kenya will send an official protest to the US government. He also confirmed that Kenya has joined hands with international security forces.

The latest developments as the government worked on a new law that will see people involved in terrorism jailed for life and their property seized.

These are some of the stiff penalties in the Prevention of Terrorism Bill, 2012, an updated version of the Suppression of Terrorism Bill of 2003 that was withdrawn after an uproar over provisions that critics said violated human rights.

The new law also provides compensation for terrorist victims. The proposed Compensation of Victims of Terrorism Fund would be funded from disposal of property seized from terrorists as well as fines imposed on those convicted.

Some MPs has vowed to reject the proposed law once it is taken to Parliament, but a section of Muslim religious leaders and professionals on Sunday supported the Bill.

According to the new law, the maximum penalty of life imprisonment would be meted out to anyone convicted of causing death of a person by engaging in a terrorist activity.

Those convicted of sheltering suspects, offering training premises, fund-raising, recruiting youths into terror groups, offering military training to recruits, providing money and weapons as well as helping suspects hide from the police, would be jailed for between seven and 20 years.

Last year, the United Nations Security Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea reported that two MPs had contributed money for mosques and youth projects in Kenya, but the funds ended up with Al-Shabaab, the Somalia-based terrorist group.

Speaking in Nairobi on Sunday, Association of Muslim Organisations in Kenya (Amok) said the Bill was meant to protect Kenyans against terror threats.

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