16 May 2014

Nairobi bomb blasts kill at least 10 as Britons fly home

At least 10 people are killed and 70 injured in two explosions in the Kenyan capital, as Britons leave the country after a Foreign Office warning about “a high threat of terrorism”.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. In the past such attacks have been widely blamed on the Somali Islamist militant group al-Shabaab, which wants Kenyan troops out of Somalia and in September killed 67 people in an attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi.

“Two explosions reported. First blast was from a 14-seater matatu (minibus), second blast within Gikomba Market. Four fatalities,” the Kenyan authorities said on Twitter. One suspect was arrested by the police and another detained.

The blasts came shortly after Kenya rebuked Britain, the United States, France and Australia for issuing travel warnings about the country and hundreds of tourists began leaving resorts along the Indian Ocean coast, which has been hit by a number of terrorist attacks.

The British government is advising tourists to avoid or leave the port city of Mombasa, which has led some tour operators to cancel planned holidays.

Some 500 British tourists are being flown home and Thomson and First Choice have cancelled all flights to Kenya until the end of October.

Kenya has suffered several attacks since its troops intervened in Somalia to fight al-Shabaab following a series of cross-border raids.

Jared Ojuk, Kenya’s deputy police spokesman, told Reuters police suspected the blasts were caused by an improvised explosive device (IED).

“Very many people are injured. I don’t know how many are dead but for sure there are fatalities,” Mwangi Maina, a trader selling second-hand shoes at Gikomba market, said.

The Kenyan Red Cross said more than 10 people were hospitalised. “Terrorism is not an evil that was born in Kenya. Terrorism is a worldwide phenomenon,” President Uhuru Kenyatta told a previously planned news conference that took place shortly after the blasts.

He dismissed western travel warnings as measures that “only strengthen the will of terrorists”.