19 November 2012

Kenya: Five Killed in Nairobi Matatu Explosion

Residents load slain bodies of passengers killed during an explosion in a mini-bus (matatu) in the Eastleigh neighbourhood of Kenya's capital Nairobi,pic\reuters

A policeman looks on as residents scatter during a rampage near the wreckage of a passenger mini-bus (matatu) after it was hit by an explosion in the Eastleigh neighbourhood of Kenya's capital Nairobi.pic\reuters

Riots rocked sections of Eastleigh estate yesterday as hundreds of young men took to the streets, attacking people and looting businesses.

The violence erupted after five people were killed when an explosion ripped apart a matatu on Eastleigh's 2nd Avenue yesterday afternoon.

The fierce battle between two groups forced police to call for reinforcements from the General Service Unit, which arrived in several trucks.

Several people were injured and rushed to different hospitals as the angry mob attacked people of Somalia origin, accusing them of being responsible for the the explosion.

A man who is reported to have jumped out of the Isuzu matatu KAY 713F moments before the explosion and attempted to jump into a saloon car was arrested by members of the public and handed over to administration police from a nearby chief's camp.

The matatu's body was extensively damaged with metal parts ripped off and seats yanked from the floor. Human body parts were strewn all over the busy road.

A Nissan matatu and a Toyota station wagon that were near the scene were also damaged by shrapnel from the blast. An eyewitness said one of the passengers' legs were blown off the by the explosion.

He said the blast lifted the matatu off the ground. "It was a horrible sight. I saw five people dead and seven others injured. We assisted them and they were taken by a good Samaritan to hospital. Police came later and cordoned off the scene," the man who declined to identify himself said.

Police and ambulance crew collected body parts and loaded them into a police Landcruiser before taking the dead to the City Mortuary.

The matatu conductor was thrown out of the vehicle and was injured by the door which was blown off in the blast. Juja Road was partly blocked by police to allow emergency vehicles get to the scene as the rioters armed with knives, iron rods and pangas walked from Mathare, Huruma and Kariobangi estates.

The ill-fated matatu was plying Kariobangi estate route number 28. Nairobi PPO Moses Ombati who rushed to the scene accompanied by senior GSU and military police officers, said that investigations into the incident had began.

Social media was abuzz with news of the incident, with many urging the residents not to attack innocent members of the Somali community.

Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka condoled the bereaved families. "Once again cowardly criminals and extremists have killed innocent Kenyans and maimed others. Their intention is to instil fear and despondency. Our security agencies will continue their vigilance and fight against such enemies of the public until they are silenced," he said.

Kenya has suffered a string of deadly attacks in Nairobi, Mombasa and Garissa over the past year. The attacks have been blamed on Somali militants and their sympathisers in retaliation for Kenya's decision to send troops into Somalia last year to drive out al Qaeda-linked militants which Nairobi has blamed for attacks on its territory.

African Union peacekeepers, led by Kenyan forces, drove al Shabaab militants out of their last major urban stronghold of Kismayu in southern Somalia seven weeks ago. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

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