19 March 2014

Kenya: Al Shabaab Planned to Bomb Mombasa Buildings

Photo: Capital FM
Rising smoke from the Westgate mall following heavy gunfire and blasts.

AL Shabaab planned to bomb strategic buildings in Mombasa before their vehicle was intercepted by police on Monday.

Two more bombs have been found under seats of the car as well as those in the boot of the car. In total the car contained six cylinder explosives weighing 60kgs, 270 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, six hand grenades, 6 detonators, 5 magazines, quarry cables and an AK 47 rifle.

The driver of the vehicle, the main suspect, has been arrested according to County Commissioner Nelson Marwa. The FBI was instrumental in Monday's operation by providing a satellite to track the movement of the suspects' vehicle. Yesterday Uganda warned that al Shabaab is planning to turn fuel tankers into massive bombs.

"We have received credible information to the effect that al Shabaab are planning to blow up fuel trucks in Kampala to cause extensive damage to people and property," Ugandan police chief Kale Kayihura said in a statement.

Marwa said on Tuesday that the two men arrested had been preparing a "massive attack".

The pipe bombs were designed to be detonated by remote control inside the basements of heavily used buildings. The two Somali suspects have been remanded at the port police for seven days pending investigations. The investigating office Barasa Abarobo requested more time to investigate.

Abdiaziz Abdullahi and Isaac Noor appeared before Senior Principal Magistrate Richard Odenyo facing charges of being in possession of uncustomed goods. According to sources, the two allegedly smuggled the devices through the porous Tanzania border at Lunga Lunga before assembling them in Mombasa.

"Our intelligence officer sharing information with both local and international agencies intercepted their communication and managed to track them down near Changamwe," said Marwa.

Marwa said they have invited the American FBI into the investigation. Noor and Abdiaziz denied that they were in possession of an uncustomed vehicle worth Sh1 million on March 11 at Changamwe. They also face other charges of handling stolen goods and making a false document. All major security installations in Mombasa have been put on high alert.

Mombasa airport has intensified security operations. "We have intensified security by increasing of screening of motorists and other key installation within the county," said Marwa.

Marwa said all boda bodas had been barred from the Moi International Airport while cars would be thoroughly screened. The police have started registering all garages and their owners in Mombasa. Some Mombasa NGOs are under scrutiny because of their alleged involvement in radicalization of youths. Both Kenya and Uganda are playing a key role in Amisom which has just launched a fresh offensive against al Shabaab in Somalia.

UN envoy to Somalia Nicholas Kay said the offensive would be "the most significant and geographically extensive military advance" since AU troops started operations in 2007.

But Kay also warned the security situation in the capital Mogadishu had "deteriorated" in the last three months.

Recent al Shabaab attacks in the capital have targeted key areas of government or the security forces, in an apparent bid to discredit claims by the authorities that they are winning the war against them.

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