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05 October 2023

Five dead in New Year blast in Kenyan town


Five people were killed in a New Year's Eve hand grenade attack and shooting in a bar in the eastern Kenyan town of Garissa near the border with Somalia, police said Sunday.

"There was an explosion in a club in town shortly before midnight (Saturday) and five people died," a senior police oficer at Northeast provincial headquarters told AFP.

"After the explosion in the club there was shooting outside and people were running all over. It appears they targeted New Year celebrations," the officer added, asking not to be named.

Regional police chief Leo Nyongesa told AFP: "We are investigating. We are looking for the attackers."

Residents voiced fears that the attackers might have been Somali Shebab insurgents or their sympathisers.

Peter Mwathis, a guard who was wounded in the attack in the garrison town, described the assailants as four men dressed in military uniform.
"I was confronted by a man in full Kenyan army uniform who asked me to open the gate. When I saw he was holding a grenade I ran into the bushes," he told AFP from his hospital bed.

"Then I heard a big blast and the place was sprayed with bullets. I thought I had escaped but later on I felt a sharp pain in my chest and realised that it was a bullet wound.

"I heard people cry loudly as more bullets rent the air targeting those fleeing from the bar," he added.

The town, capital of Northeast province, lies just 100 kmfrom the Somali border and 70 km from Dadaab, a complex of Somali refugee camps.

Kenyan police had announced on Saturday that they would be circulating photographs of 15 people they believe can provide information on the Shebab.

Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe told journalists the nine Kenyans, two Asians and four Somalis are believed to have left Somalia and that some were thought to be in Kenya already "with the intent of engaging in criminal activities".