Police have foiled a major terrorist attack after fighting off gunmen, killing one and arresting two others, after which they found a cache of arms including 36 grenades and five automatic rifles.
The officers also detained the terrorists' car which was loaded with explosives.
Initial investigations showed the car was headed to Nairobi where the terrorists planned to use it as a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED), simply a bomb on wheels.
Further investigations showed the car was assembled by al-Shabaab experts in El-Adde, Somalia.
Following the Thursday evening gunfight in Merti, Isiolo County, a big police operation is under way in the town as police seek to arrest the terrorists' accomplices.
BOOKED HOTEL ROOM
Initial reports shared among security agencies and seen by the Sunday Nation say the terrorists had probably booked a hotel room because they were carrying a key, which indicated the name of the hotel and room number.
According to the report, there were five terrorists in the car when police officers spotted it.
"Our officers spotted a Mitsubishi sports car registration number KBM 200D hidden in a thicket. The team alighted from their vehicles and approached it. One of the occupants came out while shooting at the officers. The officers returned fire killing the unidentified gunman instantly. Four of the occupants tried to escape," said the report.
It added: "Two (terrorists) were apprehended while two are at large, among them one armed with an AK-47 rifle."
Police also identified those in custody as Kenyans, going by the national identity cards they were carrying.
They are Abdimajit Hassan Adan, 24, and Mohammed Nane Kenyan, 23. Another ID card belonging to Jirma Huka Galgalo was also found.
Photographs of the terrorists' vehicle after it was dismantled showed it was rigged up with 18 IEDs.
BRING DOWN STOREY BUILDING
If detonated, the impact would have been devastating, because the explosion would be powerful enough to bring down a storey building, according to a security official who spoke to the Sunday Nation on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to divulge details of an ongoing investigation.
Also found in the car were the five AK-47 rifles with 36 fully loaded magazines - each magazine carrying 30 bullets.
Also there were "36 unprimed hand grenades, 18 IEDs and three military knives."
A black flag similar to that used by extremist jihadists and other paraphernalia associated with al-Shabaab were also found.
A motor cycle registration number plate KME 180R and ignition keys were also taken by the police.
The operation was led by Merti Deputy County Commissioner Maiyo Julius, the area Kenya police commander Gifinalis Barasa and his Administration Police counterpart Hussein Ibrahim.