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60 bus passengers held over explosives

Saturday September 29 2012

By FRED MUKINDA [email protected]

Police have detained 60 people and seized bomb-making materials that were being transported in a bus from Garissa to Nairobi.

The 60 were arrested on Friday after intelligence reports that the Al-Shabaab terrorist group could carry out attacks in Kenya following their ouster from Kismayu, Somalia, by the Kenyan troops.

The bus was stopped at a roadblock in Matuu and police arrested the driver, a conductor and passengers after they all disowned luggage that contained suspected explosive materials.

“The initial report was that there were aliens travelling in the bus,” said Yatta police commander Joel Sang.

“It was flagged down and escorted to the police station. We asked each passenger to pick his or her language but one bag remained unclaimed. It was opened and we discovered it had ingredients that, if assembled, could make a bomb.”

Mr Sang said the materials included white powder, metal pipes and detonators.

“Preliminary testing was done on the powder, and it produced a loud blast that was heard two kilometres away. If all the materials were assembled, a lot of damage could have been caused,” the OCPD said.

Anti-Terrorism Police Unit detectives are leading investigations. Mr Sang said samples of the powder had been taken to the Government Chemist for detailed analysis and verification.

“All the suspects are being photographed. They will have their fingerprints taken, and we shall surely find out who is to be released and who should be detained further,” Mr Sang added.

Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said security officers had been put on high alert following intelligence reports that a defeated Al-Shabaab was likely to carry out attacks in the city and other parts of Kenya.

Al-Shabaab members have in the past carried out deadly attacks in Kenya using grenades and homemade bombs. An improvised device that had been planted on the road in Garissa exploded injuring three police officers 10 days ago.

And on September 13, police arrested 26-year-old Omar Abdi Aden, alias Salman Abdi. He was convicted and jailed for 59 years after he was found with four suicide vests, 12 grenades, four IEDs, four AK-47 assault rifles and 480 bullets.

He pleaded guilty after he was charged with being a member of Al-Shabaab and for planning terror attacks in Nairobi. He was charged alongside Mr Abdimajid Yassin Mohammed alias Ali Hussein who denied the charges.

The duo was found in a house in Nairobi’s Eastleigh estate and police said they had been planning to blow up churches and assassinate prominent politicians.

Another case is pending in court in which two Iranians have been charged with possessing deadly RDX explosive powder used in making bombs.