Police detectives have been ordered to review counter-terrorism strategies in response to a new method adopted by Al-Shabaab operatives carrying out attacks in Kenya.
The latest trend involves terror operatives using unsuspecting Kenyans to carry home-made explosives as opposed to suicide bombers.
And the explosives used are disguised as ordinary household items, which the operatives detonate from a safe distance while the unsuspecting carriers mingle in crowded places.
CID boss Ndegwa Muhoro described the trend as “very dangerous and the most challenging development facing police officers today in the war against terrorism.”
Mr Muhoro called a meeting of top detectives at CID headquarters to discuss new ways of defeating the militia group. This follows the killing of four people in two separate attacks in Eastleigh last week, in which the bombs were disguised as a transistor radio and a gas cylinder.
Mr Muhoro added: “This is a challenge because the person who carries the bomb, in spite of being killed in the explosion, does not leave behind a trail which can lead us to the criminals as his interaction with the terrorist is just for a few minutes prior to the explosion.”
This is unlike cases of suicide bombers where detectives can track down their associates.
The first incident happened at around 7pm near St Teresa’s Catholic Church on Juja Road, Nairobi and police initially announced that a gas cylinder had exploded.
“Initially we thought it was a gas cylinder that had exploded on impact after the hand cart was hit by a matatu. Further investigations showed it was an improvised explosive device. It was detonated by remote control,” said Nairobi police boss Antony Kibuchi.
Three people died in the incident and five others were injured. Mr Kibuchi described the hand cart puller as a victim of the new Al-Shabaab trend.
Speaking at his hospital bed, the man who had been carrying the bomb on his hand cart said he had been hired to transport “a gas cylinder” and was paid Sh100.Mr Samson Defatha, a mkokoteni (handcart) puller, recalled:
“A customer approached me and asked me to ferry a gas cylinder. The customer kept his distance as he followed me from behind. Soon I heard a hissing sound before the gas suddenly burst into flames.”
In the second incident near the Moi Air Base on Friday, a man whose upper torso was completely blown off in the explosion was given a device that was concealed in what looked like an “ordinary small transistor” radio by a stranger walking behind him. The stranger then detonated the device using a remote control.