Police in Kenya have foiled a major terrorist attack after fighting off gunmen, killing one and arresting two others after which they found a cache of arms including 36 grenades and five automatic rifles.
The officers also detained the terrorists’ car which was rigged up with explosives.
Initial investigations showed the car was headed to Nairobi where the terrorists planned to use it as a vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED), simply a bomb on wheels.
Further investigations showed the car was assembled by Al-Shabaab experts in El-Adde, Somalia.
Following the Thursday evening gunfight in Merti, Isiolo County, a major police operation is underway in the city with the aim of arresting the terrorists’ accomplices.
An initial report shared among security agencies and seen by Nation says the terrorists had probably booked a hotel room because they were carrying a key, which indicated the name of the hotel a room number.
The Nation cannot name the hotel because of the ongoing security operation.
According to the report, there were five terrorists in the car when police officers spotted it.
“Our officers spotted a Mitsubishi sport car registration number KBM 200D hidden in a thicket. The team alighted from their vehicles and approached. One of the occupants came out while shooting at the officers. The officers returned fire killing the unidentified gunman instantly. Four of the occupants tried to escape,” it said.
The report added: “Two (terrorists) were apprehended while two are at large among them one armed with Ak47 rifle.”
Police also identified those in custody as Kenyans, going by the national identity cards they were carrying.
A storey building
They are Abdimajit Hassan Adan, 24, and Mohammed Nane Kenyan, 23.
Another ID card belonging to Jirma Huka Galgalo was also found.
If detonated, the impact would be devastating because explosion would be powerful enough to bring down a storey building, according to a security official who spoke to Nation on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to divulge details of an ongoing investigation.
Also found in the car were the five AK 47 rifles with 36 fully loaded magazines – each magazine carries 30 bullets.
Also, there were “36 unprimed hand grenades, 18 IEDs and three military knives.”
A black flag similar to that used by extremist jihadists and other paraphernalia associated with Al-Shabaab were also found.
With intensified war against Al-Shabaab in Somalia where Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) are operating under the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom, militants have been sneaking into Kenya to carry out attacks on soft targets.
On Friday, three teachers were killed after gunmen attacked Qarsa Primary School in Wajir County.
On Wednesday, an Al-Shabaab terrorist was blown up after an explosive went off while he planted it on a road in Lamu County.
The 3.25am incident happened between Sarira and Kolbio, a stretch regularly used by security units patrolling the Boni enclave.
Six hours later, three other terrorists were killed by military personnel who were patrolling the route.
KDF Spokesman David Obonyo said the patrol unit "found the body of the militant approximately three kilometres from Sarira following suspected premature explosion of an improvised explosive device he was trying to place on the road”.
Three AK 47 rifles, 236 bullets and bomb-making materials were recovered thereafter, he added.
Colonel Obonyo also said other terrorists escaped with injuries.
"KDF appeals for any information on any individuals seeking medical assistance in the area and also thanks the locals for their continued cooperation with the security forces," he said in a statement.