Sun, May 18, 2014 - Page 6 News List

Nairobi blasts kill 10, wound over 70

‘DESPICABLE’:Hospitals called for blood donors as officials blamed extremists for the latest deadly bombings, leaving people uncertain security forces are in control

AFP, NAIROBI

Ten people were killed and more than 70 wounded on Friday in two bomb attacks at a busy market in Nairobi, the latest in a wave of unrest blamed on Kenya’s Islamist militants.

The twin bombings came as hundreds of British tourists were being evacuated from beach resorts near the port city of Mombasa after Britain’s Foreign Office and other nations issued new travel warnings.

Kenya’s National Disaster Operation Center (NDOC) said the first blast in the capital occurred next to a 14-seater matatu, or public minibus and the second was inside a shop in Gikomba Market, close to Nairobi’s central business district.

A spokesman at the Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi’s main hospital, said eight bodies had brought in and “more than 70” people were admitted for treatment, many of them in a serious condition. NDOC then revised the death toll up to 10, while another hospital said it had received about 14 patients.

“Many of the injured are bleeding profusely. We need a lot of blood,” spokesman Simon Ithae told reporters as the hospital issued an appeal for donors.

Nairobi police chief Benson Kibue confirmed that two bombs had been used and the area was littered with debris — including clothing hurled into overhead power and telephone lines.

“Two IEDs [improvised explosive devices] were detonated simultaneously,” Kibue told reporters at the scene, trying to reassure an increasingly skeptical public that the security forces were in control.

“Don’t panic. We are on top of things,” he said.

Police also said two suspects had been arrested.

The US condemned the “latest in a series of cowardly attacks on innocent civilians in Kenya” as “despicable.”

“As we have for half a century, the United States stands with our Kenyan friends and partners who continue to face adversity with courage and resolve,” US National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said. “We support them in their efforts to confront terrorism in all of its forms.”

Earlier this month, three people were killed and 86 wounded in twin bus blasts in Nairobi that were blamed on militant cells said to be connected with Somalia’s al-Shabaab rebels. The previous day, twin attacks left four dead in Mombasa.

Kenya has been targeted by al-Shabaab since sending troops to war-torn Somalia in 2011.

Kenyan soldiers are still posted in southern Somalia as part of an African Union force supporting the country’s fragile internationally-backed government.

On Thursday and Friday, hundreds of British tourists were evacuated from beach resorts near Mombasa following new warnings of terror attacks from Britain’s Foreign Office. Australia, France and the US also issued similar warnings this week to avoid Mombasa, and in some cases Nairobi.

The Kenyan government has expressed “disappointment” and has accused countries that are telling tourists to stay away of “unfriendly acts.”

“Issuance of such travel advisories only plays to the whims of bad elements in society whose aim is to spread fear and panic,” the government said.

Sam Ikwaye, of the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers, said the evacuations were a “huge blow” to tourism, which directly or indirectly accounts for 14 percent of Kenya’s economic output and about 12 percent of the workforce.

He said beach hotels in the region were now facing a drop in revenue of up to 70 percent, and that he feared that “the decision by the British is likely to influence other countries to do the same.”

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