Police last evening reported a breakthrough in investigations of Monday’s deadly grenade attacks.
The dreaded Recce Squad of the paramilitary General Service Unit (GSU) discovered a cache of weapons during a commando raid on a house in Nairobi’s Kayole estate.
They included 20 live grenades, an AK-47 rifle, a sub-machine gun, four pistols and an MP5 gun, according to the Commissioner of Police Mathew Iteere.
Police said they arrested three people one of them believed to be part of the Monday attacks on a bar and busy public service vehicle terminus.
In Monday’s grenade attacks, one person died and over 30 were injured, some critically, in the blasts that occurred several hours apart.
The dramatic raid caught the occupants unawares as the police fired teargas canisters and forced their way into the house before ordering the suspects to surrender.
Police said one of the suspects has links to terrorist groups.
"We are following crucial leads after we received information that the gang was planning another attack," said Iteere.
It was not immediately clear what target the suspected criminals were eyeing before their evil plans were nipped in the bud, just metres from the DO’s office in Kayole.
The daring raid lasted about an hour, leaving onlookers and officers baffled. Said Iteere: "This is just the beginning of operations to smash criminal and terror gangs in the country. We appeal to the public to continue volunteering information.
"These are very dangerous weapons. They have been used against innocent Kenyans. Investigations are on-going and we will ensure they face the full force of the law."
Speaking at the scene of the arrest, the police boss said Kenyans have been treated to fear and anxiety in a manner that is not acceptable.
"Operations are on-going and surveillance is being tightened," Iteere said.
On Tuesday, support for the Kenya Defence Forces incursion into Somalia came from an unlikely source — citizens of the war-torn country.
Residents of Dhobley town near the border with Kenya took to the streets, waving Kenyan and Somali flags and burning pictures of Somali President, Mr Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.
"We want Kenya and Somalia to fight Al-Shabaab in every corner. We do not have any other hope for life," said an elder, Mr Gedi Farah.
"Kenya, do not believe the words of our weak President. Please fight Al-Shabaab and go deep into Somalia. We want to return to our homes," Reuters news agency quoted Farah as saying.
Somali military officials and a spokesman for the pro-government Ras Kamboni militia urged the demonstrators to calm down, saying the President’s remarks were not in line with the Somali government’s position.
The demonstrators were protesting Ahmed’s remarks quoted on Monday in which he denounced the military operation, dubbed Operation Linda Nchi, saying Kenya was only meant to provide logistical support and training for the TFG soldiers.
Ahmed, a former leader of the Islamic Courts Union that gave birth to Al-Shabaab, has been unable to stamp his authority beyond parts of Mogadishu since being elected president in 2009. The TFG has for long relied on troops of the African Mission in Somalia to hold onto the little territory it controls.
A moderate Sufi militia in Somalia, Ahlu Sunna, that has supported the government’s fight against Al-Shabaab, also weighed in against President Ahmed’s comments.
"Sherif, if you cannot, or do not want to oust Al-Shabaab, let Kenya do it for the sake of the suffering Somalis," spokesman Sheikh Abdullahi Sheikh Abu Yusuf told Reuters.
"All Somalis support Kenya and no one will join Al-Shabaab. People are tired of Al-Shabaab," he said.
Kenyan soldiers have advanced on several fronts along with Somali troops and allied militias, but the first major confrontation is expected to be in the strategic transit town of Afmadow where the militia has sent more fighters to try and stop the Kenyan and Somali government troops from taking the town and advancing to the strategic port of Kismayu.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Kenya Police moved to beef up security across major towns and rounded up suspected illegal immigrants.
There was an increased presence of uniformed police officers at various hotels, shopping malls and public areas. At the same time, police arrested dozens of illegal foreigners across the country believed to be linked to criminal gangs. Several others were charged in various courts with being in Kenya illegally.
On Tuesday, a survivor of the Monday evening blast recounted how he witnessed a man in a car hurl the grenade before it exploded, injuring him and others and killing one person.
Mr Justus Makau, 37, who is still nursing extensive wounds on his arms, legs and torso at the Kenyatta National Hospital, recalled seeing a slow-moving white saloon car from which a man threw a grenade to the ground.
Makau, who works in Nairobi’s Kariokor area, was waiting for a bus to his home in Kibera at around 7:30pm when he saw the driver of the white car open the door of the car and roll a grenade on the ground.
In Kisii, over 50 people, mostly of Somali descent, and who lacked documents to prove they were Kenyans, were arrested and held during a police swoop on hotels, shopping malls and guesthouses.
Kisii DC Benjamin Njoroge said the crackdown would be sustained until all illegal foreigners are identified. "We are not taking any chances and are asking members of the public to report any suspicious people," said Mr Njoroge.
In Kilifi, police arrested nine Ugandans and handed them over to the anti-terrorist unit for immediate deportation. Kilifi Deputy OCPD Mr Maurice Musonye said they were holding a woman of Somali origin who was found living in a house at Mabirikani village in Kilifi.
"The public informed us they had seen people suspected to be foreigners and our officers arrested them," said Musonye, adding that the foreigners claimed they were on their way to Malindi to preach.
In Nakuru, 12 people police believe to be Somali nationals on Tuesday appeared before a Nakuru court for the second day and pleaded not guilty to charges of being in the country illegally.
One of them, Mr Isaah Ali Mohammed, pleaded guilty and his case will be mentioned today alongside those of two others whose documents are still under verification.
Ten of them were each released on a Sh100,000 bond with one Kenyan surety. Chief Magistrate Wilbroda Juma rejected their lawyer’s plea to be granted cash bail, saying it was not appropriate given the nature of the case they were facing.
The suspects were arrested at the weekend in Garissa and Dubai shopping malls in Nakuru town.
In Nairobi, Chief Magistrate Gilbert Mutembei freed on bail two doctors alleged to be members of outlawed Al-Shabaab group.
The two, Mr Ali Omar Salim and Mr Adan Hassan Hillow, who were charged with engaging in organised criminal activity and were each granted cash bail of Sh200,000.
Meanwhile, gunmen on Tuesday abducted two foreign aid workers in central Somalia, the latest in a string of abductions by militia groups from the war-torn nation.
"We have reports that two foreign aid workers from DDG (Danish Demining Group) were kidnapped from near the airport at Galkayo by gunmen. We are following up to get further details," said Mr Ali Mohamed, a Somali security official.