Twin Nairobi market blasts kill 10 people

No immediate claim of responsbility for explosions in Gikomba area of Kenyan capital

 A member of the bomb squad measures the distance between two blast sites after twin improvised explosive devices (IED) went off in Gikomba market. Photograph:  Christena Dowsett/Getty Images

A member of the bomb squad measures the distance between two blast sites after twin improvised explosive devices (IED) went off in Gikomba market. Photograph: Christena Dowsett/Getty Images

Fri, May 16, 2014, 20:09

Authorities in Kenya said 10 people had died in two explosions in the capital, Nairobi, today, heightening fears of terrorist attacks in one of Africa’s most frequented tourist destinations.

The blasts came days after both the United States and Britain issued warnings of increased threats.

Hundreds of British vacationers staying at resorts fringing the Indian Ocean were ordered home by tour operators today after a British warning to avoid all but essential travel in some coastal areas.

Much of the concern about security in Kenya relates to the al-Shabab, a militant Islamic group based in neighbouring Somalia that has taken responsibility for attacks including the killing of 67 people at Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall in September.

Kenya’s National Disaster Operation Centre said in a message on Twitter that two explosions were reported in Nairobi - hundreds of miles inland - striking a 14-seat minibus and a crowded market called Gikomba. One suspect has been arrested, the centre said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The bombing was the second this month. Less than two weeks ago, three people were killed and at least 60 wounded when two homemade bombs exploded on buses along one of the busiest highways in Nairobi.

British tour operators said some 500 British vacationers were staying at resorts on the Indian Ocean coastline when the British authorities issued their latest warning.

Thomson and First Choice, a tour operator with many of its clients in Kenya, said the warning of an enhanced threat had prompted it to cancel all its flights to Mombasa until October 31ar and “to repatriate all customers currently on holiday in Kenya back to the US”. A first group of vacationers arrived early Friday at Gatwick Airport, south of London, and a second was scheduled to land Friday evening.

The evacuation dismayed Kenyan tourism officials representing an economically crucial industry, who said tourists in the Mombasa area had not been affected by attacks. There were few immediate details about the explosions in downtown

Nairobi, the scene of a horrific bombing at the US Embassy in 1998. The latest advisory from the State Department spoke on Thursday of “continuing and recently heightened threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime in some areas.”

“The US government continues to receive information about potential terrorist threats aimed at US, Western and Kenyan interests in Kenya, including the Nairobi area and the coastal cities of Mombasa and Diani,” the advisory said.

“Terrorist acts can include suicide operations, bombings - to include car bombings - kidnappings, attacks on civil aviation, and attacks on maritime vessels in or near Kenyan ports. Although the pursuit of those responsible for previous terrorist activities continues, many of those involved remain at large and still operate in the region.”

New York Times