|A General Service Unit officer disperses a crowd at Mwembe Tayari on Saturday after experts blew up an abandoned suitcase wrongly suspected to be bearing a bomb. [PHOTO: GIDEON MAUNDU/STANDARD]|
By Stanley Mwahanga and Willis Oketch
Mombasa, Kenya: Mombasa police believe that more than one home-made bomb was detonated at a busy bus stage in Mombasa in the Saturday evening blast. Police officers also revealed yesterday that the Improvised Explosive Devices were rigged with thousands of ball-bearings to inflict maximum damage.
Besides ball-bearings, nails and nuts, investigators also found traces of acetone, petrol and unidentified chemicals and liquids from the scene of the blast.
“From the trajectory of the marks (of the ball-bearings) it is not possible that one device was exploded, said CID officer Henry Ondiek.
Last evening, a local official admitted that Suleiman Mohamed Said, who died in the blast alongside Jamal Mohamed Awadh, had criminal records but their families denied that they were terrorists with links to the controversial Musa Mosque as alleged by police on Sunday. Police suspect that the two were planting or detonating the devices.
A local chief described Jamal as a petty offender but stated he had no information of his alleged links to terrorism.
On Sunday, Ondiek, a senior CID officer in Mombasa, said Suleiman and Jamal were arrested when police stormed the mosque to end an outlawed jihadist convention on February 2 this year and later released.
Suleiman’s family defended him against allegations that he was involved in terrorism activities.
“I lost my son and now they are linking him to terrorism acts and claim that he was arrested at Masjid Musa. My son has never even set foot in the mosque. He doesn’t even go to the mosque, he was just a mere tout trying to fend for his family,” Leila Hatif, Suleiman’s mother said in Mombasa on Monday.
Still yesterday, a woman who claimed to be Awadh’s sister defended him against the terrorism allegations. A list provided by police on February 3 shows that a Mohamed Awadh was among those captured in the raid.
Separately, detectives involved in the probe told The Standard that the two male victims appeared to have taken the full impact of the blast, leading to fewer deaths.
The detectives say the suspects bodies were ripped apart by the blast, but Suleiman’s family claims that his body was largely intact but had a huge hole in the head and huge cuts in the abdomen.