Police warn public to watch out as terrorists now turn to IEDs
Kenya: The police and the military are racing against time to stop the use and making of homemade bombs in the heightened war on terror.
They warned that Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDS) have now become the weapon of choice as they can be made using readily available material. Police also say the al-Shabaab has trained dozens of Somalis and Kenyans on the deadly art of making the explosive devices.
Senior officers said they were alarmed by the rising use of homemade devices, as eight of the last ten attacks in the country have been carried out using IEDS.
IEDs have caused 33 deaths of innocent civilians, according to police statistics. Grenades account for 26 deaths, small arms 107 (Westgate figures is 67), bombs 11 and landmines two deaths.
Already, the Kenya Army Corps of Engineers has been roped in to study the explosives, and is now involved in educating the public on how to detect an explosive device.
Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo told The Standard on Saturday that the Pangani device is suspected to have been made with TNT, the industry standard for making explosives.
“We know they are using TNT to make these bombs. But we have declared serious war on them,” said Mr Kimaiyo, who was reported to have been one of the targets of the Pangani bomb together with Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku.
Officers familiar with investigations into the widespread use of IEDs said apart from TNT, the assemblers use chemicals readily available in the Kenyan market. For instance, when the officers raided an Islamic institution in Eastleigh, they discovered a number of chemicals including beauty products.
“The products include lotions that can form an explosion and they are currently with the Government Chemist for tests,” an officer said.
Experts who spoke to The Standard on Saturday said the bomb makers are increasingly building explosive devices that are simple, cheap and deadly. Almost anything that can flip a switch at a distance can detonate a bomb.
Earlier, Mr Kimaiyo said while some developed countries like the US had set up programmes to teach ordinary citizens how to spot suspicious purchases of day-to-day items that could be used to make explosives, Kenya does not have one.
The bomb experts said the explosive devices used locally have been found to vary in design, with some made with fuses, shrapnel such as nails and ball bearings.
In the last one year or so, the bomb makers have used pressure plates, cellphones and command wires, according to results of analysis of blast sites and debris. An analysis of explosives hurled at a food court in Eastleigh, which was done by local and international experts show the IEDs had a switch (activator), fuse, body, explosive, and a power source (battery).
Readily available materials found in IEDs include alcohol, ammonia, urea, detergents and fertilisers. However, some IEDs are made with a chemical known as RDX.
Two Iranians accused of planning attacks on Western targets in Kenya are accused of shipping over 100kgs of powerful explosive materials.
The police are also working to unravel the identity of two terror suspects killed in an explosion at Pangani Police Station, Nairobi, on Wednesday.
Among those being pursued are three key suspects who escaped from a house in Pangani, where an IED exploded on March 31.
The three are Kenyans, all believed to have trained in bomb making in Somalia. Officers who spoke on condition of anonymity told The Standard on Saturday the identity of the two who died in the Pangani blast could lead them to more al-Shabaab bomb makers.
Two police officers were killed alongside the suspects on Wednesday, moments after they seized the car at a roadblock in Pangani.
On Friday, police arraigned in court the owner of the Toyota NZE car carrying the explosives. Ahmed Dugal Ali and his co-accused Abdiaziz Bulle Ali and Mohamed Abdullahi Falir appeared before Senior Principal Magistrate Edda Agade and were remanded in custody for 10 days.
Source: Standard Media