Sunday 28 December 2014

At least 10 dead after Kenya blasts

Published 16/05/2014 | 13:37

A man injured by one of the two blasts in downtown Nairobi arrives to be treated at Kenyatta National Hospital. (AP)
A man injured by one of the two blasts in downtown Nairobi arrives to be treated at Kenyatta National Hospital. (AP)
Two Australian tourists died and 16 others were injured when the vehicle they were in crashed along a highway west of the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

Two blasts have hit Kenya's capital, killing 10 people and injuring 70 more in the latest in a string of increasingly frequent terror attacks.

The blasts came the same week as the United States and the UK issued renewed warnings about possible terror attacks in Kenya, leading to a bristling response from the country's president - who said such warnings strengthen the will of terrorists.

Nairobi Police Chief Benson Kibue, who announced the casualty figures, said two improvised explosive devices detonated in a market area near downtown Nairobi. One blast hit a mini-van used for public transportation.

Before the blasts, the US embassy sent out a new travel alert to American citizens warning of a continued terrorist threat in a country where the US Embassy suffered a devastating attack in 1998.

An earlier US warning this week said for the first time that the embassy itself is taking new steps to increase security "due to recent threat information regarding the international community in Kenya".

Britain also warned its citizens this week to avoid the coastal city of Mombasa and beach towns nearby, prompting a travel company to cut short the vacations of hundreds of British citizens and fly them home.

Security concerns have long been high in Kenya because of its proximity to Somalia and the al-Qaida-linked terrorist group that operates there.

In September, four al-Shabab gunmen attacked a shopping mall in Nairobi, killing at least 67 people. The 1998 embassy bombing killed more than 200.

The US Embassy says that more than 100 people have been killed in shootings, grenade attacks and small bombs in Kenya over the past 18 months.

Since the mall attack, Kenya has suffered numerous smaller bombings in Nairobi and Mombasa. Kenyan authorities, with the help of the FBI, also discovered a huge car bomb that could have caused massive damage.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, who began a previously planned news conference only minutes after the Nairobi blasts, offered his condolences but dismissed the US and UK travel warnings, saying that terrorism is a common problem, including in New York and Boston.

Press Association

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