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Kenyan police seek two foreign suspects for city blast

Wednesday, May 30, 2012
by Daniel Ooko and Chrispinus Omar

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NAIROBI, May 29 (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan police said on Tuesday that they have launched a major manhunt for two foreign suspects in connection to Monday's huge explosion in downtown Nairobi which has so far left at least 38 people injured.

Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe also released a photograph of Emrah Erdogan who is thought to be either a German or Turkish citizen who is travelling on forged papers and appealed to the public to provide vital information that may lead to his arrest.

"Any person with information on Emrah Erdogan should provide the same to the nearest police station. He is believed to be either a citizen of Germany or Turkey and travelling on fake or forged papers," Kiraithe told journalists in Nairobi.

He said Erdogan is believed to have entered Kenya through Garissa in northern frontier from neighboring Somalia on May 3 and is probably still in the east African nation.

The latest development came as United States anti-terrorism experts are helping their Kenyan counterparts in investigating a powerful blast which shattered some buildings on Moi Avenue in Nairobi on Monday.

The foreign bomb experts from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) went to the scene of the Monday's blast at a building in the central business district to join local experts who are exploring the possibility that the blast was caused by criminals using an improvised explosive device.

Regional deputy police commander Moses Nyakwama said some of their "friends" have joined the Kenyan investigating team to unravel the cause of the huge explosion.

"You know this is a problem and some of our friends may want to offer certain assistance. You cannot get to the root cause of it unless you allow them to join us," Nyakwama told Xinhua by telephone.

"The investigations are on but so far we have not made any arrest. What we know for certain is that the explosion was caused by an explosive device which was planted inside the building but not an electrical fault," he said.

Kiraithe said the investigators have concluded that the Monday explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device planted in the building by criminal elements.

"The investigating team is now working to establish the identity of the perpetrators of this serious crime. In this respect the team is zeroing on two male suspects whose profile they are piecing together," he said.

The incident came amid heightened security in Nairobi after Somali insurgents threatened reprisal attacks in Kenya if Kenyan soldiers who launched cross border incursions since October last year do not leave the Horn of Africa nation.

The Monday attack also came a month after the U.S. Embassy in Kenya warned it has credible information of an imminent terror attack in Nairobi.

According to the U.S. embassy, the terror attack is likely to target places that foreigners congregate in the country, including malls and night clubs.

Assanands building which was housing an exhibition was extensively damaged and property of unknown value was destroyed while neighboring buildings were slightly damaged by the blast.

Kiraithe said the team has been able to recover several materials from the scene of the explosion which have been sent for forensic analysis to determine the composition of the explosive and its method of initiation.

"We are still appealing to anybody with information to provide it to the nearest police officer, public servant or other responsible person." The police spokesman said Erdogan is "probably still in the country."

Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Monday termed the blast an act of terrorism. "This is a cowardly act that should be condemned. I urge all Kenyans to support our security forces as they work hard to eliminate acts of terrorism."

"This is a terrible tragedy that has befallen Kenyans. It is unfortunate that terrorists have decided to target innocent civilians with cowardly acts," Odinga said after visiting the scene of the blast.

"We will make sure all residents in Kenya are safe. We are under attack because terrorists are being challenged in Somalia," he said.

The east African nation soldiers who are battling Somali militants have intensified military crackdown inside southern Somalia to push back Al-Shabaab, blamed by Kenya for a series of cross-border kidnappings.

The militant group has also come under pressure from Uganda, Burundi and Sierra Leone soldiers who recently pushed them out of the outskirts of Somali capital Mogadishu, and from Ethiopia, which seized Baidoa town recently.

The east African nation has suffered several grenade attacks since late last year when the Kenya Defence Forces attacked Al- Shabaab militants in Somalia following a series of cross-border abductions targeting foreigners.

On Saturday, two grenade attacks were staged in northern Kenya, the area that has suffered most of such attacks suspected to be staged by the Al-Shabaab sympathizers.

Kenya is planning to install closed circuit television cameras along the streets in the main cities, with the assistance of the Chinese government, to deter such attacks.

Since the Kenya military incursion into Somalia, several attacks believed to have been carried out by Al-Shabaab have occurred in Mandera, Wajir, and Garissa and Dadaab districts of northern Kenya even as the military reports gains against the group by capturing their military bases and killing scores of them.


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