NAIROBI — Kenya’s police chief has vowed to continue crackdown on terrorists despite Wednesday night’s car explosion which killed four people including two police officers.
Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo said security forces will intensify their operations on terrorists in the country to ensure that there is peace.
“I want to assure Kenyans that war against terrorist is still on and we are not relenting. We cannot be cowed by such heinous acts and therefore I fully declare war against any acts of crime in the country,” Kimaiyo told journalists at the blast scene on Wednesday night.
There was panic at the scene when another explosion went off as the government and police briefed the media. However, the police confirmed that that the second explosion was a detonation.
The Wednesday incident came in the midst of a countrywide security crackdown against illegal immigrants and terror suspects.
According to Kimaiyo, the blast occurred at around 8:00 p.m. when police officers on a 999 patrol vehicle as they were carrying out their normal patrol, saw a Toyota Corolla NZE driving on the wrong side of the road.
He said the occupants were flagged down and questioned what was their motive to drive on the wrong side of the road but the occupants could not clearly explain, prompting the police officers to take them to Pangani Police Station for further interrogation.
“Two officers entered the car to make sure the suspects didn’t escape, one sat at the front and the other at the back, while the remaining officers in the 999 patrol car escorted the suspected car from behind,” Kimaiyo explained.
On reaching the Pangani Police Station gate, one of the suspects on sensing danger he ignited the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) that had been mounted at the boot of the suspects car.
“Unfortunately, the car exploded killing all occupants including our two officers and two suspects. I mourn the loss of the two gallant officers who have died in their line of duty as they were defending and protecting our beloved country,” Kimaiyo said.
“I appreciate their good, were it not for them to have intercepted the vehicle, the IED could have caused a huge damage. Their devotion and dedication will forever be remembered by us,” he said.
The police chief who commended the security forces countrywide for their commitment in the war against terrorism urged them to continue with the same spirit until the police win the war.
Police investigators worked into the night Wednesday poring over the twisted and charred remains of the car destroyed in a powerful explosion outside the Pangani police station.
The police station has served as a detention center for suspects caught in the dragnet, many of them from Eastleigh neighborhood of Nairobi. Detainees have complained of poor conditions and police abuse taking place inside.
Residents of the “little Mogadishu” because of it’s predominantly Somali population have also raised concern over the security operation which said violates human rights.
Eastleigh has been the scene of frequent terror attacks but the police have warned residents and travellers to be extra vigilant and volunteer any information that may assist in the investigations.
The East African nation has been at a verge of terrorism threats by Islamic extremists allied to Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaida militia after Kenya forces took control of the insurgents’ stronghold in Somalia.
The police have also admitted that despite a boost in security the threat remained, urging shopping malls to remain vigilant and to “do more” to prevent attacks.
The recent terror at a church in Mombasa last Sunday, and last year’s Westgate mall in Kenya Nairobi capital that left over 68 civilians dead and dozens wounded, were blamed on the militants from neighboring Somalia.