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Archive for October 23rd, 2011

Nairobi nightclub grenade attack injures 14

Posted by Administrator on October 23, 2011

Medics assist one of 14 victims injured in the grenade attack

Medics assist one of 14 victims injured in the grenade attack

A grenade was thrown into a discotheque (Mwaura’s Club on Mfangano Street) in the bustling centre of Kenyan capital Nairobi wounding 14 people, central Nairobi police chief Eric Mugambi said.

Witnesses said that people were still drinking in the pub but its doors had been shut when a man walked there and asked to be let in shortly before 3am.

“That is when he hurled the grenade and fled the scene,”

“Initial investigations show it is a grenade that was thrown inside. Fourteen people have been injured,” Mugambi said.

The incident in the early hours of Monday comes a week after Kenya launched a cross-border operation against al Shabaab fighters in southern Somalia after a wave of kidnappings of foreigners on Kenyan soil.

Al Shabaab have denied responsibility for the kidnappings, saying Kenya was using them as a pretext for its military campaign.

It had threatened major reprisals if Kenyan troops did not withdraw, prompting the US embassy in Kenya to warn of an “imminent threat” of a terrorist attack in the east African country.

Kenya has in the past initiated brief cross-border incursions, but the latest operation is on a much larger scale raising fears Nairobi could be dragged into the anarchic Horn of Africa’s two-decade-civil war.

Al Shabaab have proven capable of launching large-scale suicide attacks within Somalia and outside.

Earlier this month, a suicide truck bombing claimed by the fighters killed more than 70 people when it exploded outside a compound housing government ministries in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.

The fighters have also claimed responsibility for a bomb attack in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, which killed 79 people last year. That strike, their first on foreign soil, was in revenge for Uganda’s contribution to the 9,000-strong AU peacekeeping force.

Source: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/10/2011102405349143812.html

A victim of the explosion is attended to by a nurse in the emergency wing of Kenyatta National Hospital in the capital

A victim of the explosion is attended to by a nurse in the emergency wing of Kenyatta National Hospital in the capital

An officer secures the scene outside the club with police tape. The ground can be seen littered with debris

An officer secures the scene outside the club with police tape. The ground can be seen littered with debris

A police officer walking into the club to survey the damage

A police officer walking into the club to survey the damage

Blood stains can be seen on the floorboards inside the club following the attack

Blood stains can be seen on the floorboards inside the club following the attack

Wreckage: Police inspect the scene following a grenade attack on Mwaura's bar in the early hours of this morning

Wreckage: Police inspect the scene following a grenade attack on Mwaura's bar in the early hours of this morning

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Posted in Kenya | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Daadab bus-police in the spotlight

Posted by Administrator on October 23, 2011

Posted in Kenya | 1 Comment »

Kenya Reportedly Didn’t Warn U.S. of Somalia Incursion

Posted by Administrator on October 23, 2011

Kenyan forces at Tabta town on October 22,2011. Photo/WILLIAM OERI

Kenyan forces at Tabta town on October 22,2011. Photo/WILLIAM OERI

NAIROBI, Kenya — As fierce fighting spread to new areas of Somalia on Thursday, American officials said they had been taken by surprise by Kenya’s recent march into Somalia to battle Islamist militants.

Kenya is one of the closest American allies in Africa, frequently cooperating on military and intelligence issues, and American officials have branded Islamist militants in Somalia a serious threat to the United States.

But Kenya’s sudden incursion into Somalia over the weekend caught the United States “on its heels,” one American official said Thursday. A former American official with experience in Africa said Kenyan officers had given their American counterparts “zero” information before the offensive started.

A senior American officer said there were no American military advisers or trainers with the Kenyan troops, but the officer would not comment on whether the United States was providing intelligence or reconnaissance information to the Kenyans.

Somali officials have likewise denied that they knew anything about the Kenyan offensive before it began, though it would be politically uncomfortable for them to publicly invite a foreign force onto their soil given the anger many Somalis felt toward Ethiopia’s incursion into the country to oust Islamists in 2006.

Some analysts find it hard to believe that the American government, with a huge embassy and presence here in Kenya, would not have had an inkling of Kenya’s plans, which have precipitated one of the biggest military operations the Kenyans have undertaken since independence in 1963.

But the United States has acknowledged its involvement in Somalia before. During the Ethiopian invasion, for instance, American officials revealed that they had provided the Ethiopian military with intelligence and that they had even coordinated airstrikes alongside Ethiopian maneuvers.

On Thursday, African Union troops stormed a stronghold of the Shabab Islamist militant group on the outskirts of Mogadishu, the Somali capital, while a militia backed by Kenyan troops simultaneously attacked another Shabab stronghold along the Kenya-Somalia border, taking it over and forcing Shabab fighters to flee.

“All of us in the field are liaising together,” said Kenya’s military spokesman, Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir, adding that fighting would stop only “when Al Shabab is not able to fire a single round.”

The Shabab control large areas of southern Somalia, beheading people in their territory and blocking Western aid agencies from delivering food during a time of famine. The group claimed responsibility for a bombing in Uganda last year that left more than 70 people dead, and it has instated strict laws banning music, soccer and even bras from areas they control.

In the past six weeks, several Westerners have been kidnapped from Kenya near the Somali border, and Kenyan officials immediately blamed the Shabab for the abductions, citing them as a rationale for sending hundreds of troops into Somalia over the weekend. But many independent analysts doubt the abductions were committed by the Shabab and say pirate or bandit gangs were probably the culprits.

Kenyan security forces have also been working hand in hand with clan-based militias in southern Somalia, and on Thursday one of those militias, the Ras Kamboni Movement, captured the town of Ras Kamboni, forcing Shabab fighters there to flee, the militia said. Fighting lasted for roughly one hour as about 300 militia soldiers infiltrated the town.

Ras Kamboni is a small fishing village along the Kenyan border where Somali militants have trained. Security analysts have said the village can be used as a jumping-off point for raids onto the tourist-laden beaches of Kenya.

On Wednesday, the French government announced that Marie Dedieu, a 66-year-old quadriplegic cancer patient who was abducted by Somali gunmen on Oct. 1 in Kenya, about 60 miles from the border, had died. A British woman kidnapped a few weeks earlier after her husband was shot to death was also believed to have been taken toward Ras Kamboni.

“We all felt that Somalia was so far away, until the first of October it arrived on our doorstep,” said a longtime acquaintance of Ms. Dedieu, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for security fears.

On Thursday, the Kenyan government signaled what it called a partial triumph over the militants.

“It is safe to say that Al Shabab has moved from previous locations near the Kenyan border,” Major Chirchir said. “But we have not attained what we wanted,” he said, adding that operational plans were being drawn for a “game-changer” in the fight.

But Mogadishu, which is splintered into spheres of influence loosely controlled by peacekeeping troops, warlords, independent militias and forces loyal to Somalia’s transitional government, seems to remain a tough fight.

At dawn on Thursday, hundreds of African Union and Somali government forces pushed Shabab fighters out of the neighborhood of Deynile, witnesses said. But within hours, Shabab fighters began to regroup, recapturing territory as the battles dissolved into man-to-man combat laced with heavy shelling, residents said.

The Shabab announced in August that they were withdrawing from Mogadishu, prompting Somalia’s transitional government to celebrate and claim that the capital was under its control for the first time in years. However, the Shabab kept fighters on the outskirts of the city, including in Deynile, which is believed to be their last stronghold in Mogadishu.

By early afternoon on Thursday, witnesses in Mogadishu said Shabab fighters were dragging a dozen bodies, some of them believed to be African Union peacekeepers, through the bullet-riddled streets.

At least 16 people are believed to have been killed and dozens wounded in the fighting, witnesses say. Casualties from both sides were flooding into Deynile’s main hospital.

“I don’t know where to go, but people are on alert,” said Sa’dia, a 27-year old mother living in Deynile. “The Shabab are telling people to flee.”

Mohamed Ibrahim contributed reporting from Mogadishu, Somalia, and Eric Schmitt from Washington.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/21/world/africa/americans-given-no-warning-of-kenyas-march-into-somalia-officials-say.html?_r=1

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Video-How Al Shaabab militants are smuggling arms into Kenya

Posted by Administrator on October 23, 2011

Fresh revelations have emerged as to how much the country could be vulnerable to attacks by Al Shabaab elements in our midst.Nairobi Provincial Police Officer Anthony Kibuchi has advised Kenyans to be mindful of suspicious characters in public places, as Kenya’s defense forces continue to wage war against Al Shabaab in Somalia. This advisory points to another frontline that could pose the greatest threats to internal terror attacks by the Al Shabaab. NTV brings you a chilling report of when Al Shabaab may have been planning to attack Kenya, and how they intended to smuggle in explosives, as told by an Al Shabaab operative.

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Lure of Quick Riches Abroad Leaves Families in Anguish

Posted by Administrator on October 23, 2011

Esther Wanjiru, the mother of Jackline Njeri, who was serving a three-year sentence in Brazil over drug trafficking, with grandson, David Kariuki

Esther Wanjiru, the mother of Jackline Njeri, who was serving a three-year sentence in Brazil over drug trafficking, with grandson, David Kariuki

It is exactly midday and our short trip to the heart of Kiamaiko ward in Nairobi’s Huruma estate is turning out to be a turbulent one.

Being a holiday, a sea of humanity jams the narrow access road to the estate and our driver has to be careful not to knock down any of the myriad barefoot children who wouldn’t give way despite the incessant hooting.

Our arrival at Ghetto is met with a ghostly hush only occasionally broken by a tot’s chuckle, or bawl. Members of the neighbourhood have congregated on an open space sandwiched by old residential flats. If events had turned out differently, they would be celebrating a reunion with a long lost relative or neighbour.

This rare gathering is as a result of the mysterious death of Jacqueline Njeri in a Brazilian prison days before completing her three-year jail sentence. She had been convicted of drug trafficking.

Yet, their agony is not just about the demise, or their inability to fly the 35-year-old’s remains home. Everyone here has a relative, a neighbour or a friend currently languishing in jail abroad after being tricked into joining an international drug trafficking syndicate that has been targeting desperate girls in the vicinity with the promise of overnight riches. While some of the convicts have escaped with a penalty as lenient as a two-year jail term, others have not been lucky, with some said to serving cumulative terms of up to 150 years.

Within a radius of just 20m from this sombre gathering, four families are enduring this doom.

Dozens of other families, we learn, are suffering similar fate in the larger Huruma.

When we finally enter the deceased’s house and the silence is broken, her mother, Esther Wanjiru is inconsolable. She explains that she learnt of her daughter’s death on September 10. This was through her daughter’s fellow convicts at the Sao Paulo Prison and not the Kenyan or Brazilian embassies.

The charcoal dealer says Njeri’s woes started back in 2009 when she told her family that a stranger had promised her employment abroad.

The next time they heard of her, it was through media reports indicating that she had been charged with drug trafficking in Brazil and jailed for three years.

“We were later to reach her in prison and she informed us that she was found in possession of heroin, which she says was planted in her travelling case by her boss. She was to be released and deported this month,” Wanjiru explains.

While emotions and a sense of loss visibly shows on the faces of the deceased’s teary childhood friends, it is cruelly ironical that her son, three year-old David Kariuki, clings to his toy oblivious of the fact that he is an orphan at infancy.

A stone throw away from Njeri’s dwelling, we meet Margaret Muthoni, a vegetable vendor who looks disturbed as she calls to mind how a promise of riches she was instinctively cynical about left her poorer, and haunts her with every eyewink.

The 50-year-old recounts how she had to sell household items to ensure that her daughter, Mary Mukami, enjoyed her short trip abroad, only to learn that she had been incarcerated shortly after departure.

Seated on a bed in her rusty one-room abode, Muthoni recalls that Mukami, a 35-year-old mother of three, came home jovial one evening in February 2008 and informed her that she, alongside a neighbouring cum childhood friend, were to fly out for a three-week business trip.

The trip, she explained, had been organised and paid for by a middle-aged woman they had met in Nairobi and would involve the selling of curios and jewellery.

Borrowed Sh10,000

Muthoni says after thoroughly quizzing her daughter about the nature of the trip, she half-heartedly gave her the green light to fly out.

“She then said she required some new clothes and a briefcase, but I didn’t have the cash. Her grandmother borrowed Sh10,000 from a women’s group while I sold my wall unit, dining table and television set and further dug into my savings to raise Sh22, 000.

We gave her Shs30, 000,” Muthoni recalls amid sobs.

Mukami flew out on February 14, 2008, and her mother says she did not even escort her to the airport since she felt disturbed by her departure.

“She called two days later and said they had arrived in Hong Kong safely. But I started fearing for the worst after she went silent for the next three weeks – a week past her planned return date,” she says.

It is then that Njeri, Mukami’s mate who died in a Brazilian jail last month, advised her that they go to the immigration department to inquire about her daughter’s status.

“At the immigration department, I almost suffered a heart attack when we were informed that Mukami and her friend had been detained at the Hong Kong customs department. To me, this bordered on fiction,” she says.

And reality was to sink after immigration official facilitated a phone conversation for mother and daughter.

“Mukami informed me that they travelled via India, where they were locked in a hotel room shortly after arrival and ordered to swallow heroin tablets at gun point. She said the drugs were destined for Guangzhou, China, but they were arrested while riding in a bus and that she fell ill after the drugs burst internally, prompting surgical removal,” Muthoni narrates.

Muthoni and her daughter were not to hear from each other for the next 18 months until some nuns from Kiamaiko visited Kenyans jailed in Hong Kong and stumbled upon Mukami, who gave them a letter to bring to her family.

Jailed in Hong Kong

“She informed us that she had been jailed for five years since it was her first visit to Hong Kong and that she would be released in 2014. We have since been communicating with my daughter via letters,” reveals Muthoni. She now takes care of her four grandchildren.

Moments after we bid Muthoni goodbye, we are directed to Rodgers Okwemba, 19, who is busy attending to customers at a herbal medicine kiosk.

Like the rest, the quest to escape from the jaws of poverty saw his mother, Ms Mary Adhiambo Apollo; fall in the hands of drug barons in 2006.

Okwemba says their mother left him, his three siblings and their father in Mombasa, telling them that she was going on a business trip with a friend.

While her friend was lucky enough to return to Kenya, Adhiambo, 40, was taken into custody immediately she landed in Hong Kong. After a gruelling court battle, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

“I don’t know when she’ll come back,” says Okwemba, 19, who looks traumatised by her mother’s plight. With no official communication from the Government (they learnt of her arrest and imprisonment through the media), they are yet to know the drug she was allegedly peddling or the veracity of the charges against her, he says. The youngster now lives with his grandmother while his siblings live with the father.

Once through with Okwemba, we manoeuvre our way past some winding alley and are directed into a homestead made of old iron sheets just metres away.

Double tragedy

Here, we find David Kairu showering using a hose connected from a nearby tap and placed atop the bathroom, while his younger sister Grace Wangari prepares lunch.

As orphans, theirs was a double blow when their sole breadwinner Ann Wambui, 28, was locked up in a foreign land, leaving them with two children to nurse.

Before she left for Hong Kong in 2008, Wambui had just lost her husband who was allegedly shot dead by police officers in a case of mistaken identity. Wambui had been left to fend for her four siblings and two offspring.

“As she left, she had high hopes that she would strike it rich in Asia to assist us,” Kairu pensively recalls.

Wambui, popularly known as Macarena, is the childhood friend who travelled alongside Mukami. ‘A female friend’ operating from Nairobi’s central business district had processed their passports, visas, and flight tickets.

Like Mukami, Wambui’s visa indicated that she was to go to India then Hong Kong before proceeding to China. But upon reaching India, they were forced to swallow the drugs and later arrested in Hong Kong.

It was at this point that she made a call to her family and informed them of what had happened.

“She said she was in hospital because the drugs had burst in her stomach for exceeding the period,” recalls Wangari. Wambui was sentenced to serve eight years at the Tai Lam Centre for Women. She got a heavier sentence than her neighbour since her passport indicated that she had previously travelled to the same country three other times.

Source: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/politics/InsidePage.php?id=2000045419&cid=4

Posted in Diaspora News, Kenya | 9 Comments »

Suffering student returns from oversees

Posted by Administrator on October 23, 2011

Posted in Diaspora News, Kenya | 4 Comments »

 
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