Kenya Twin Blasts Leave 10 Dead as British Flee




Kenya reeled under twin bomb blasts that left over ten people dead, many injured and has British nationals fleeing in terror. The bomb blasts that exploded in a crowded Nairobi market place on May 16, left the people terrorized, even as British tourists were evacuated following warnings of an increased terror threat.

Reporting casualties via Twitter, the Kenya National Disaster Operation Centre (NDOC), said the blasts occurred in the Eastleigh neighbourhood in Nairobi. The neighbourhood is the home of many Kenyans and settling Somalis too. Ambulances rushed over 43 injured men and 33 injured women to hospitals from the Gikomba market place in Nairobi. Commandant Benson Kibuye of the Nairobi Police reported the arrest of two suspects in connection with the blasts. Acting swiftly, Nairobi police were able to track the suspects who detonated the bombs within minutes of each other. No one has claimed responsibility for this heinous crime yet.

Authorities said that two explosive devices went off at 2:30 p.m., one in a public minibus and the other in the Gikomba marketplace. The police are suspecting the involvement of a local extremist Somali group, Al-Shabaab. The Somali group has been blamed for bombing bustling areas of Kenya, after the military crossing of Kenya in Somalia in 2011. The blasts that left over ten people dead and many injured came after British nationals were being evacuated while others fled from the coastal town of Mombasa. A number of Western embassies issued advisories against travelling to Kenya, following terrorist activities in Nigeria and Sudan.

Many anxious relatives of the victims were seen wailing and weeping in anxiety outside the Kenyatta National Hospital where they were admitted.“We are told that he is not well,” Jonathan Kandu, 40, said of an uncle who was taken to the hospital. “We feel we are not secure at all.” , he wailed. The Kenyatta Hospital and Red Cross tweeted for blood donors as many of the victims who were brought in were bleeding profusely.

With Kenyan authorities forcibly interrogating and arresting thousands of immigrants, refugees and members of the large Somali community, it is no surprise Human Rights Watch is crying foul. In a statement released earlier, the group said that the arrests perpetuated ethnicity-based discrimination and did not improve security. Justifying the campaign as a legal reaction to recently escalated terrorist activity in Kenya, authorities are turning a deaf ear to groups that accused them of being abusive and discriminating. Rounding up Somali immigrants, authorities claimed they were ridding Nairobi of possible terrorists among the residents. Security was tightened at bus stations, with vehicles ordered to have clear glass windows for easier identification.

Addressing the national media President Uhuru Kenyatta said,“Many countries are faced with terrorism; it’s not a purely Kenyan issue. We must therefore unite to combat terror.”

Thomson and First Choice, prominent British tour operators with many clients in Kenya promptly cancelled all its flights to Mombasa until October 31, 2014. They evacuated around 500 tourists on Thursday, May 15 and Friday, May 16, after the British Foreign Office ordered them “to repatriate all customers currently on holiday in Kenya back to the U.K.”, and only permitting travel unless necessary. The American travel warning issued on May 15 said: “The U.S. government continues to receive information about potential terrorist threats aimed at U.S., Western, and Kenyan interests in Kenya, including the Nairobi area and the coastal cities of Mombasa and Diani.”

The explosions occurred on May 16, after the U.K., Australia, France  and the U.S. issued travel alerts to African nations on Thursday. Hundreds of vacationing expatriates, mostly British nationals, fled Kenya the same day after the twin blasts that left ten people dead. With Kenya being labelled as a nation with “high threat” of terrorist attacks, Kenyan authorities, assured the people that security was their main priority, and dismissed the warnings as “unfriendly acts” against Kenya.

By Rathan Paul Harshavardan

The New York Times