POLICE in Nairobi yesterday arrested two suspects and were in hot pursuit of several others following a dawn raid in Eastleigh. The raid thwarted an imminent attack by Somali Islamist militants, a senior police official said. Police recovered six suicide bombs, 12 hand grenades, four rifles, four suicide bomb vests, six bullet proof jackets, 40kg of explosive material and 484 bullets along Fourth Avenue in Eastleigh where
Police spokesman Erick Kiraithe identified the suspects as Abdul Majid Yassin, 26, and Suleiman Abdi, 24. He said police were looking for eight more suspects who were on the run. Kenya has been on a heightened state of security since Nairobi sent troops into Somalia to strike at al Qaeda-linked insurgents in October 2011 following a spate of kidnappings in the north-east.
Western embassies in Kenya have warned of possible attacks several times in the last nine months. According to the police, the suspects were arrested at a residential house during the operation that started at 1 am and lasted several hours. The apartment where the two were arrested appeared to have several people more staying there.
Some of the explosives recovered are similar to those used in the Ugandan bombing that killed more than 76 people during the World Cup in 2010, according to police. Wiring could be seen protruding from wrapped-up bundles stuffed into the vests. Police said the neatly arranged packages contained explosives and were ready to be used. They also seized several mobile phones that could have been used to trigger the bombs.
"You can see that the gang had all the equipment and systems they would have used to escape security checks and metal detectors," said Kiraithe referring to their security bags. Police do not know their targets but said it could have been any key installations within and outside Nairobi.
The raid was carried out by detectives from the special crimes prevention unit, the flying squad and the anti-terrorism police unit. According to Nairobi deputy police commander Moses Ombati, police had been trailing the suspects after receiving a tip-off from members of the public.
The deputy police boss said the suspects were part of a bigger terror gang operating in Nairobi.
"The suspects had kept the weapons in two traveling suitcases and we hope they will give us more information into their activities," said Ombati yesterday. Yesterday the two suspects, both from Somalia, were being held by police.
Kiraithe linked the suspects to the al-Shabaab militia. Last October in Kayole the police arrested a suspect, Elgiva Bwire alias Mohamed Seif, who has since been convicted of fanning terror activities.