Kenyan police thwarted a planned attack by al-Shabaab insurgents, arresting two men and seizing an arsenal including suicide vests packed with explosives, assault rifles and ammunition, spokesman Eric Kiraithe said.
Officers raided a home in Eastleigh, the ethnic Somali enclave of the capital, Nairobi, and detained Abdul Majid Yasin Mohammed, a 26-year-old Kenyan, and Suleiman Abdi Aden, 24, from Somalia, Kiraithe told reporters today in the city. Authorities are still searching for eight men of Somali and Kenyan origin who were involved in the plot, he said.
“We seriously suspect al-Shabaab and its sympathizers,” Kiraithe said.
Al-Qaeda’s affiliate carried out the Horn of Africa country’s first suicide bombing and has used the tactic during its insurgency to topple Somalia’s Western-backed government. The latest suicide attack in Mogadishu, the capital, killed at least four people with twin blasts on Sept. 12, only two days after the election of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud. Al-Shabaab threatened to attack Kenya, after the East African nation sent troops into Somalia in October to hunt down the insurgents. Kenya blames al-Shabaab for a series of cross-border attacks and kidnappings.
At least 27 people have been killed in blasts, mostly grenade attacks, across Kenya including on churches and a bus station since the Somalia incursion, and foreign governments including the U.S. State Department, have warned of “imminent attacks.”
Investigators found four suicide vests lined with about 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of explosives each and designed to detonate by mobile phone, four AK-47s along with 480 rounds of ammunition, two improvised explosive devices and 12 grenades during the raid, Kiraithe said.
The attackers may have been planning to strike crowded churches as early as this Sunday, Kiraithe said in an interview.