Ten dead, more than 70 wounded in Nairobi blasts

May 16, 2014 - 5:47:02 pm

NAIROBI: Ten people were killed and over 70 wounded in two bomb attacks in a busy market area in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, officials said Friday.

The National Disaster Operation Centre (NDOC) said the first blast occurred on a 14-seater matatu, or public minibus, and the second was inside Gikomba Market, situated to the east of Nairobi's central business district.

A spokesman at the Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi's main hospital, said eight bodies had brought in and "more than 70" people admitted for treatment, many of them in a serious condition. The NDOC then revised the death toll up to 10.

"Many of the injured are bleeding profusely. We need a lot of blood," the spokesman, Simon Ithae, told AFP as the hospital issued an appeal for donors.

Nairobi police chief Benson Kibue told reporters at the scene that two bombs were thrown at their targets -- the minibus and a clothes store.

"Two IEDS were detonated simultaneously," Nairobi police chief Benson Kibue told reporters at the scene, trying to reassure an increasingly sceptical public that the security forces are in control.

"Don't panic. We are on top of things," he said, adding the one suspect had been detained.

The attacks come days after several countries issued new warnings against travelling in Kenya amid a wave of bombings and attempted bombings in both Nairobi and the port city of Mombasa.

Earlier this month three people were killed and 86 wounded in twin bus blasts in Nairobi that were blamed on Islamic militant cells connected with Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels. The previous day, twin attacks left four dead in Mombasa.

Kenya has been targeted by the Shebab since sending troops to war-torn Somalia in 2011. Kenyan soldiers are still posted in southern Somalia as part of an African Union force supporting the country's fragile internationally-backed government.

On Thursday and Friday, hundreds of British tourists were being evacuated from beach resorts near Mombasa because of the travel warnings.

British travellers have been told by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to avoid "all but essential" visits to Mombasa, impacting links to nearby white-sand beach resorts.

The Kenyan government has expressed "disappointment" and has accused countries that are telling tourists to stay away of "unfriendly acts".

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the latest attacks -- although Kenyan authorities have been engaged in a major security crackdown on suspected Shebab supporters in Nairobi.

The operation has focused on Nairobi's main Somali district Eastleigh, and residents have accused police of indiscriminately arresting people of Somali origin. Gikomba Market is situated adjacent to Eastleigh.

The Shebab claimed responsibility for the high-profile attack on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall last year in which at least 67 people were killed. (AFP)

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