IED causes blast at Nairobi airport, official says

AP News
Posted: Jan 17, 2014 12:33 PM

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A small improvised explosive device exploded at a popular restaurant at Nairobi's airport, damaging a metal trash can and the ceiling but causing no injuries, a high-ranking security official said Friday.

The IED caused little damage in the Thursday night explosion, and airport operations quickly returned to normal. The security official insisted on anonymity to talk about an investigation still under way.

The attackers may have planned to temporarily store the IED inside a trash can at the outdoor restaurant with plans to move it from Java House to inside Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the official said.

The U.S. Embassy in Kenya issued a warning to citizens in Kenya to be vigilant in light of recent IED and grenade attacks, including the airport blast.

Shortly after the blast, police fired on a vehicle at the airport gate, and police on Friday recovered from a city slum a bullet-riddled car with a dead body and another IED inside, said a police official who also insisted on anonymity because of the investigation.

The vehicle had six bullet holes in the rear and front sides and deflated tires that seemed to have been driven for a long distance while flat, said Nairobi police boss Benson Kibue. Witnesses said two men fled the car after arriving at midnight, witnesses told police.

Shortly after the blast, Kenyan police chief David Kimaiyo said on Twitter that the blast was caused by a light bulb falling into a trash can. The explanation was met with confusion and disbelief by many users of the micro-blogging service.

Kenyan authorities have always been eager to downplay security incidents because tourism plays such an important role in the country's economy. Kenya's safari parks and white-sand beaches welcome more than a million tourists per year, mostly from the U.S. and U.K.

Kenya has seen a string of serious security incidents in recent months. In September four gunmen from a Somali militant group entered a Nairobi mall and began shooting indiscriminately, killing at least 67 people. Al-Shabab has vowed to launch attacks in Kenya because of the country's military presence in Somalia.

In August a huge inferno gutted the Nairobi airport's international arrivals hall. The fire was ruled an accident.