Kenyan police hold suspect as they
probe grenade attack
By Chris Mgidu and Joy Nabukewa
June 25, 2012
MOMBASA, Kenya -- Authorities say they are holding a Kenyan in connection with a grenade attack at a nightclub that killed one person and injured 28 others.
Regional police commander Aggrey Adoli said a preliminary investigation of the attack, which occurred late Sunday in this coastal city, indicates that there was heavy gunfire and three explosions at the scene.
"We can confirm that indeed one person was killed after he was hit by one of the grenades and scores rushed to the provincial general hospital to medical attention," Adoli told journalists Sunday night.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack and authorities suspect the Somali militant group Al-Shabaab might be responsible.
Elijah Rop, the head of the region's anti-terrorism police unit, said authorities are holding 23-year-old Salim Athuman, a Kenyan who was injured in the attack and remains under tight guard at a local hospital.
"We are treating him as a prime suspect and we believe a hand grenade that might have exploded prematurely injured him and he was unable to escape with his accomplices," Rop told journalists Sunday night.
Police and witnesses told Xinhua that the attackers used two cars with one bearing a foreign number plate.
Geoffrey Momanyi said he saw six people, including a woman, leave the vehicles and brandish guns as they approached the Jerico Bar in Mishomoroni, about 8 km from Mombasa..
"They stood just a few meters from where people were crowded and hurled grenades and shot several times before fleeing in the waiting cars," said Momanyi, who lives in the area and was among the revelers when the attack occurred during a big European soccer match between Italy and England.
Adoli, the police commander, said he mobilized security forces who immediately sealed off the scene to piece together crucial leads that might assist in the arrest of the suspects.
"We have received 28 casualties, one admitted dead at the hospital's Intensive Care Unit. Others sustained serious and soft tissue injuries," Stella Ndivo, a matron at the Coast Provincial Hospital, told Xinhua.
The attack came one day after the U.S. government issued a travel advisory warning of an "imminent threat" of a terrorist attack in Mombasa.
The acting head of of the civil service, Francis Kimemia, and Tourism Minister Dan Mwazo earlier derided the American warning as "economic sabotage" in a city economically dependent on tourism.
Kenya's coastal towns are the backbone of the East African country's thriving tourism industry, which has been hit by the fear of terror attacks and the kidnapping of foreigners by Somali pirates from resorts near the border with Somalia.
Police have particularly spoken against laxness in the screening of cars for explosives at shopping malls. Any business or social gathering with at least 10 people in attendence also might be vulnerable to attacks, police have warned.
The port city, the capital Nairobi and other parts of Kenya have suffered a series of grenade attacks since Kenya sent troops into Somalia last year to try to pursue Al-Shabaab insurgents it blames for a surge in violence and kidnappings threatening tourism.
Early Sunday, anti-terror police arrested two Nigerian terror suspects in Mombasa for allegedly being in Kenya illegally.
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