Police on Thursday seized 15kg of a substance suspected to be used in making explosives during a swoop on Mama Ngina Drive, Mombasa.
The white powdery substance was in two grey rucksacks, neatly wrapped in blue polythene bags.
The officers were led to the site near the Mombasa Golf Club by an Iranian arrested earlier in Nairobi alongside an accomplice, on suspicion of being terrorists.
Coast provincial police boss Aggrey Adoli said security officers feared the parcels contained explosives and mobilised the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU), bomb experts and the military for the raid.
“We mobilised all our security agents, took the luggage and screened it before opening it. We suspect it to be chemicals vital in making bombs and other explosives. We do not want to give more information about the substance since it is being taken to the Government Chemist for further analysis,” said Mr Adoli.
He said the suspects had given the police vital information to help in dismantling the terror network in the country.
“We have one suspect in Mombasa who will lead us to different areas where they have been operating and the other is in Nairobi where he is being grilled to get more information which might help us reduce cases of attacks in the country,” he said.
The operation, the second in as many days, comes in the wake of Wednesday’s raid by security agents on a bonded warehouse in Changamwe where two containers were seized allegedly with contraband.
The squad was led by Coast ATPU commander Elijah Rop and comprised officers from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Kenya Revenue Authority.
Sources said the containers had been tracked from Iraq by Interpol and were suspected to contain explosive materials.
The police remained tight-lipped on the contents, but the Nation learnt that among the items found in the containers were a fully-assembled tractor, its spare parts and assorted building materials.
The tractor will be dismantled and inspected for contraband.
“The search for explosives was thorough to the extent that the tractor’s tyres were deflected and other parts separated,” a police source said.
Other sources said a businessman had been arrested after he was identified as one of the people who met the Iranians in Mombasa two weeks ago.
The man imports rice and other goods from Pakistan and Vietnam and the anti-terror police suspect he played a key role in the importation of the two containers.
“He has been interrogated purposely in connection with the two seized containers which were opened and their contents taken out. However, we did not get what we were looking for,” said a police officer who could not be named as he is not allowed to speak to journalists.
This comes in the wake of heightened security in the country, especially in Coast Province which shares a long, winding border with Somalia where African Union forces are fighting the Al-Shabaab militants.
Kenya Defence Forces fighters are said to be closing in on the terrorists’ main base in Kismayu, with an August deadline to kick out the outlaws blamed for grenade attacks in the country.
In February, twin blasts rocked Mombasa and Mtwapa towns, killing two people and injuring 30 others. The Mtwapa blast targeted a church crusade while the one in Mombasa happened in a restaurant in Tononoka.
Early last month, another explosion rocked Bella Vista restaurant in the town centre, killing a security guard and injuring four other people.
Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for grenade attacks in Garissa, Wajir and Nairobi. The terrorists have also threatened more violent attacks to force Kenyan troops to leave Somalia.
KDF moved into the south-western part of the war-torn country in October last year after Somali pirates killed a tourist and kidnapped others in Lamu County.