By Lillian Aluanga-Delvaux
October 2011, a grenade is hurled into a crowd of commuters at the OTC bus terminus on Racecourse Road in Nairobi killing one person and injuring dozens.
Hours later a similar attack occurs, this time in a pub on Mfangano Street. In the months that follow, Garissa, Wajir, Mombasa, and Nairobi make headlines in a string of grenade attacks that have hit the country in the past six months.
The attacks, which have registered only one conviction, have seen pressure pile on the country’s security organs to ensure culprits are punished.
So far, Elgiva Bwire Oliacha, alias Mohammed Seif, who was linked to the OTC bus terminus attack, is the only suspect to have been convicted. He is serving a life sentence.
At the Coast, a man linked to last month’s grenade attack at the Bella Vista Sports bar was arrested, while another suspect held over a similar attack at the God’s House of Miracles Church in Ngara, in April, is in remand until June 20 when his case will be heard.
Four men suspected to be behind the spate of grenade attacks in Northern Kenya were also arrested last week.
But there have been incidences that still remain unresolved, with no suspects arrested or arraigned in court since their occurrence. An example is the 2010 Uhuru Park crusade-cum-‘No’ prayer rally in the run up to the referendum on the Constitution.
In the Country Bus Station grenade attack, four suspects including three minors were arrested but later released. Then there was also the case of two suspects allegedly linked to terror activities — Mohammed Kassim and Samir Hussein — who wound up dead in Voi. Kassim had, in March, been arrested, but later released, while Hussein had a terror related case pending at Kibera Law Courts.
As calls for more arrests and prosecutions in the wake of the attacks mount, the police force has come out to defend itself.
“The right role of police officers is to enforce the law. However, prevention of crime is also our responsibility but incase it happens then we must be given time to conduct investigation in order to know the perpetrators,” says Deputy Police Spokesman Charles Owino.
Terrorism, he says, is a global challenge whose dynamics had shifted in recent years.