Saturday, May 19, 2012
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Anti-Terrorism Police Unit officers said Friday they gathered "new evidence" after a university student Kassim Jembe surrendered and denied links to a grenade attack at a nightclub in Mombasa.
Jembe surrendered at the Coast Police headquarters in connection with this week’s attack at the Bella Vista, a popular nightclub there.
A private security guard was killed and four others, among them the suspected suicide bomber, Thabit Yasin, critically wounded.
"We will treat the suspect’s statement as evidence given to us, " Regional Anti-Terrorism Police Commander Elijah Rop told Xinhua in Mombasa. "He (Jembe) should not be worried because he is in safe hands."
Activists from the Muslims for Human Rights, a local human rights lobby group whose members have routinely been rounded up for allegedly assisting terrorism suspects, accompanied Jembe during the surrender.
Police suspect Yasin, arrested after witnesses positively identified him, said he was visiting Mombasa, where he met Jembe.
"I was surprised to hear him (Yasin) mention my name.
"That is why I came to declare I am innocent," Jembe said in his recorded statement to the police.
The latest attacks in Mombasa follows a series of similar raids at entertainment spots, which have led the police investigators to link extremist preachers, poverty and lack ofjobs as a threat to national security.
Police investigators say local youth, teachers and doctors are capitalizing on the growing fundamentalism to indoctrinate more poor youth.
Jembe, a fourth-year student at Moi University, relocated to Mombasa from the western town of Eldoret.
The student told police his recent relocation to Mombasa was due to a job he landed at the ancient coastal city.
Mombasa is known for its sandy beaches which makes it one of the world’s tourist attractions.
Jembe told the police he planned to transfer to Mombasa Polytechnic to continue his studies.
Thabit said he met Thabit through a brother who also studies in Mombasa.
Guards and revelers at the Bella Vista, identified Yasin as the man who attempted to attack the amusement spot, but were repulsed.
Witnesses said the suspect withdrew a pistol when challenged by the guards.
During the confusion at the club, a grenade dropped and went off, wounding Yasin, who fled the scene on a tricycle.
Doctors discovered a return bus ticket to Nairobi from Yasin’s clothes.
But he insists he is innocent of the charges.
Yasin maintains that he was passing by the scene when the grenade went off.
However, police said he was on the watch list.
Police insist Yasin met Jembe while in Mombasa.
Investigators later found rounds of ammunition and a pistol from his luggage.
The investigations into the series of grenade attacks continue.
Police have linked Yasin another suspect, Abdullahi Kabwe, who has been charged in connection with the recent grenade attack at a church in Nairobi, which killed three people.
Kabwe has been charged in court for the attack.
The suspects are local youth who have recently received training in Somalia and returned to Nairobi and Mombasa, where they have been involved in low-intensity attacks.
Police suspect the local indoctrination of the youth during regular prayers with the allure of jobs, could worsen in recent times.
The country has witnessed a spate of grenade attacks in recent months in Nairobi and in northern Kenya, the latest being at a church in Ngara in Nairobi.
"Tuesday was a bad day for us because we have two attacks; we have intensified a security in our country," Iteere said.
He blamed the attacks on the Somali militant group, Al-Shabaab, adding that there are a lot of young people who crossed into Somalia to train on how to carry out military attacks.
Iteere some of them have been coming back into Kenya and "these are the people we believe are bringing these grenades here."
The police chief denied the grenades were similar to the ones used by security forces in the east African nation.
The Mombasa attacks came as the authorities had assured the country they were following crucial evidence in relation to the heinous attack which took place in Mtwapa, about 15 km north of Mombasa town and at an entertainment in Mombasa town in March.
The twin attacks killed two people and injured more than 30 others.
The East African nation’s coastal towns are the backbone of the country’s thriving tourism industry, which has been hit by the fear of terror attacks and the kidnapping of foreigners by Somali pirates from resorts near the border with Somalia.
Police particularly warned against the laxity in the screening of cars for explosives at all shopping malls and any business or social gatherings with at least 10 people at any given moment that these might be vulnerable to attacks.
Security in key installations in Kenya has been put on a high alert following Kenya’s military operations in Somalia which sparked threats from the Al-Shabaab group that it will retaliate deep in Kenya.