AFP – A grenade thrown into a bar in the Kenyan capital Nairobi Monday wounded 14 people, all Kenyans, in an attack police linked to recent threats made by Somali Shebab insurgents.
“We are linking the grenade attack to the threats that have been issued by Shebab, and that is why I am appealing to city residents to be vigilant and cooperate with our officers,” said Nairobi police chief Antony Kibuchi.
The US embassy in Nairobi had warned Saturday of an “imminent threat” of attacks possibly targeting foreigners, one week after Kenyan forces crossed into Somalia to hunt down Al Qaeda-linked Shebab fighters.
The embassy cited “credible information of an imminent threat of terrorist attacks directed at prominent Kenyan facilities and areas where foreigners are known to congregate, such as malls and night clubs.”
“We will remain alert and we urge members of the public to remain alert as well,” Kibuchi added. “We have heightened security patrols and enforcement in the city.”
The red-painted Mwauras bar is in the bustling centre of Nairobi, popular with night-clubbers. An AFP journalist said few signs of damage were apparent from the outside of the building, which was guarded by a dozen police.
The injured were taken to Nairobi’s Kenyatta Hospital. A nurse said six of them suffered “bad injuries on the faces and head” while the rest had “minor injuries on the hands and legs.”
“There were in total 12 patients, two were critical, one had a severe injury on the left leg and the other one had facial injuries,” said Dr Ibrahim Hassan.
“The other ten had minor injuries which look like shrapnel injuries.”
At the hospital, victims told of panic in the pub as the attack happened.
Lawrence Kioko, a chef in a Nairobi Japanese restaurant, had gone out to make a phone call before the incident.
“When I came back I ordered a drink and before I could even take a sip, I heard a loud explosion, and there was a small metal object that fell near my legs, and there was confusion all over the place, everyone was running and I realized there was blood all over my face,” Kioko said.
“I have suffered injuries on my face and legs, I even don’t know how I came here,” Kioko told AFP from his bed in the emergency ward at the hospital.
Another victim, Kevin Otieno, said he had been in the club since midnight.
“There was music and everything seemed OK until when the loud blast occurred. I am told someone threw something inside but I don’t see him,” he said.
“I am too lucky to be alive, because it was like hell the kind of confusion and the pain I suffered after it occurred.”
Jonah Mwangi, a minibus conductor, said he had gone to purchase cigarettes and decided to have a drink.
“I wish I had bought the cigarettes and left, I decided to have a drink and that is when this explosion happened. It was so loud and immediately I started feeling pain and blood splashing at me and we were just trying to get out.”
“Because there was one entrance, it took a lot of time because the entrance was so small,” he said, bandages all over his face.
Last week, Kenya sent troops into Somalia to hunt Shebab rebels it blames for attacks on its territory and several abductions, including a British tourist, a French woman who has since died in captivity and two Spanish aid workers.
The radical Islamist Shebab, who deny kidnapping foreigners, have repeatedly warned of bloody retaliation against Kenya.
There have been small sporadic explosions including grenade attacks in Nairobi in recent years by unknown assailants.