Sunday, May 06, 2012
Transport to and from North Eastern region was paralysed for more than 10 hours after a suspected explosive device was found under Garissa/Tana Bridge.
Hundreds of vehicles and commuters remained stranded on the both sides of the five-metre bridge which is the only entry into and exit from the remote region bordering the war-torn Somalia.
Security personnel including ballistic experts who were called in from Nairobi condoned off the bridge as they searched for the suspected explosive that was first noticed by a member of the public who was crossing the bridge on foot. The security scare led to more than 10 seminars being cancelled in Garissa town leading to massive loss of income by the local traders. Some hoteliers estimated losses of millions of shillings in the cancellations.
According to witnesses, the suspected Improvised Explosive Device was found attached neatly beneath the bridge by a commuter who raised the attention of the police manning the area. A witness who declined to be named said the officers led ballistic experts who come by military helicopter from Nairobi, removed the device and directed the security officers manning the bridge to stop vehicles and people from using it until they ensure its safety .
The Islamists militia group al Shabaab who were blamed for spates of kidnappings of foreign aid workers working in North-Eastern region and incursion into the border districts led to the invasion of the Kenya Defence Force has repeatedly threatened to explode the bridge to cut off the Military supplies to KDF fighting inside Somalia flush out the terror linked group.
The bridge security scare come barely five hours after a similar incident disrupted humanitarian activities at the sprawling Dadaab refugee camp for the better part of Thursday. In the Dadaab incident a suspected IED was found at the Dadaab main offices for humanitarian aid organizations operating in the area which led to a circulation of security threat that resulted to the suspension of all activities within the refugee camps.
Speaking to the press over the two incidents North eastern PC James Ole Serian said that "a device like bomb was seen at the middle of the road last night, one man who seen seated next to the place where the device was found was arrested and interrogated by the police,". He added: "When the police interrogated the man, he claimed to be resting and was ordered by the police to leave the area immediately, when the security personnel went to the check the place where he was seated they saw some bottle they suspected to be an IED,".
The PC further said that bomb experts were called in to check and found that what caused the security scare "was an empty bottle tired beneath the bridge". However, they took the precaution and closed the bridge from public use for safety and he urged the public to be extra alert so as not to be caught off guard by terrorist attacks.