SECOND BLAST IN NAIROBI KILLS ONE, INJURES MANY
Nairobi was stunned by a second attack yesterday evening, this time taking at least one life and injuring at least 13 other innocent bystanders following an attack at a bus terminal. A major security crackdown was already underway following a similar incident in the early hours of the same day, focusing on illegal Somali and other immigrants and suspects, prompting fears amongst the legal Somali community of a witch-hunt.
The implications of a second such attack in less than 24 hours are sending chills down the spines of the Kenyan establishment and its tourism fraternity and security meetings and stakeholder meetings are underway discussing further measures to ensure safety and security of Kenyans and visitors alike and restore a sense of calm.
Understandably not one single source wanted to go on record but several at least gave their own views to this correspondent, including a former well placed politician who said: Going into Somalia on our mission to create a buffer was forced on us by Al Shabab and other militants and these pirates. They operated with impunity thinking they were safe just a few steps across the border. Kenya has a right for self defense and the militants are not speaking for Somalia, they are an enemy of Somalia. The government in Mogadishu is in joint operations with us and so is the AU force. Our troops must finish their job and we cannot give way now because some of them are throwing grenades in Nairobi. If we stop before the job is finished in Kismayu we will pay a very heavy price afterwards. We are at war. Legal residents and citiziens of Somali descent should not fear, they should be helping police and security to identify illegals, those with a bad agenda, the militants, the conduits for the pirates, that should be reported now immediately. The more the Somali community in Kenya cooperates on this the better and quicker our police can nab the culprits and bring them to justice. Those caught will face charges in court and will hang when found guilty. We are all very saddened by the loss of life and pray for those injured but we cannot stop now, this must be finished once and for all to secure Kenyas future. A senior tourism stakeholder in contrast was in near panic and a message from him read as follows: Whoever is behind this and Al Shabab is the main suspect organization, knows what effect such random attacks have. Kenyans will be scared to go places, use busses, go shopping, send kids to school. These terrorists have no mercy on kids and innocent people. They are now targeting us in revenge but they started it with abductions. Our tourism industry is at cross roads now. If our security cannot stop this right now we will see travel advisories left right and centre warning visitors off. This could mean ruin for our sector and for our economy. To be honest, right now everyone is just looking over our shoulders and with suspicion at the person next to us. It is almost like it must have been in America after 9/11, we know there are enemies amongst us but dont know who they are and what they look like. This is very very bad.
Meanwhile are arrests of dozens of illegal immigrants, not just Somalis but from other nationalities too, being reported from all major cities and towns as a combined crackdown by all security organs is underway. Alongside Kenyas military intervention in a cross border operation did an internal security operation unfold, now even more intensified after the two grenade blasts. Restaurants, shopping malls and supermarkets, office buildings and government offices are now all responding to the new threats by installing additional screening points and beefing up security already in existence, where individuals and vehicles are being thoroughly checked, a situation common already in Uganda which suffered a retaliatory terror strike by Al Shabab on the eve of the FIFA World Cup final last year. It is also understood from Ugandan sources that security cooperation within the East African Community has been stepped up along the events in Kenya and that the dragnet on illegal immigrants and suspect individuals has been expanded into the wider region. International support by leading global anti terrorism units has apparently also been offered and accepted, providing extra intelligence to East African governments which themselves are not always able to eavesdrop on communications, lack sophisticated surveillance equipment and the interpretive capacities needed to establish the where, when and how.
In a related development, across Kenya, have many political, administrative and community leaders of Somali origin come out strongly in favour of Kenyas military operation and asked their own ethnic community to cooperate with the authorities and by doing so show their loyalty to their own country. Right now though it is prayers and good wishes to peace-loving Kenyans of all ethnic backgrounds as the rest of us across East Africa stand with you and by you.