Nairobi blast: Was it a bomb?
Posted Monday, May 28 2012 at 22:30
Explosive experts were on Monday poring over evidence to find out the cause of a blast that injured 35 people in downtown Nairobi, leaving the government divided on what sparked it.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga termed the blast “an attack” on Kenya, contradicting Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere who had attributed it to an electric fault.
“From preliminary investigations, we can rule out that it was either a grenade or a bomb. It was probably an electrical fault,” Mr Iteere said.
Later at the Kenyatta National Hospital, Internal Security minister George Saitoti appeared to cast doubt on the electrical fault theory.
Instead, he pleaded with Kenyans to be patient as investigations into the cause of the explosion are conducted.
“I believe what the Police Commissioner said was right from immediate investigations at the scene. The information I have doesn’t indicate the actual cause of the explosion.
“This is why I am urging Kenyans to be patient as investigations to find out what the cause was are carried out,” he said.
And added: “People should not rush to conclusions; one should not be involved in speculation.”
The Kenya Power and Lighting Company also discounted the possibility that the blast could have been caused by an electrical fault.
“The affected building has no ground mounted transformer inside or outside that would explode,” said a statement from the power firm.
“All the electrical connections to the building including the cut-outs (fuses) on the Kenya Power side that would otherwise blow in the event of a short circuit inside the building were intact.”
However, in a statement sent to newsrooms on Monday night, Mr Iteere said though the cause of explosion had still not been established, investigators were exploring the possibility that the blast could have been caused by criminals using an improvised explosive device.
The blast occurred at about 1.15 pm, ripped off a section of the roof and shattered glass windows, though the front glass facade of the adjacent Mount Kenya University (MKU) building was unaffected. (SEE IN PICTURES: Blast rocks Kenyan capital)
Assanand’s House is a building between the MKU Tower and Krep Bank and used to be a music shop before it was converted to stalls.
The building has over 20 such stalls, called exhibitions, stocking all types of wares, including clothes, mobile phones, computers and stationery.
Witnesses said there was a blast before a fire broke out. Smoke billowed out and the flames quickly spread to highly flammable goods such as clothes and shoes.
The blast shook nearby buildings and most of those injured suffered from burns, broken limps and bruises.
Doctors were attending to 16 others for minor cuts and soft tissue injuries.