Monday, October 24, 2011

Update: Second IED Blast in Nairobi in a Day Kills 1, Injures 22

An IED detonated near a crowded bus stop in Nairobi early Monday evening (October 24) evening as commuters traveled home, killing at least one person and wounding eight. The evening blast was the second of the day in the Kenyan capital, after the US warned of possible terror attacks. The earlier attack occurred at a local nightclub where a hand grenade was thrown into the building, injuring fourteen people.

COMMENT: The US Embassy warning had intimated that the militant Somalian group al-Shabaab would carry out reprisal attacks in response to Kenyan troops' invasion of Somalia in mid-October. The al-Qaeda-linked group promised to unleash terror attacks in Nairobi in retaliation, which they obviously have delivered on.

As I said earlier today in my previous posting, attacking locals is an excellent way of turning the public against the central government and other foreign nations that support Kenya in the effort against global terrorism. Nairobi's provincial commissioner, Njoroge Ndirangu, said experts were still confirming what type of IED was used in the evening blast. He was careful not to blame al-Shabaab until it has been confirmed that the group was behind the bombings.

Al-Shabab is loosely affiliated with al-Qaeda and counts militant veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars among its ranks. The militant group carried out twin attacks in Kampala in July 2010 that killed 76 people. The U.S. warning on Saturday also said likely targets include shopping malls and night clubs where foreigners congregate.

The weapon used in the early Monday attack was a Russian-made F1 grenade. A similar type of grenade was used in a downtown Nairobi attack in December 2010 at a bus station. That attack killed one person. Three grenades exploded at a political rally in downtown Nairobi in June 2010, killing six people. In December that year, two traffic police died when they were shot and a third was seriously injured by a grenade.

although neither of today's IED blasts reflects any degree of sophisticated planning, the US Embassy warning and the fact that there was at least one fatality and over 20 injured, suggests that those behind the bombings want to convey a message to Kenya that they are serious. The longer Kenyan forces remain inside Somalia, the greater the likelihood is that low-level bombings will continue.

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