Kenya – once known to the world as haven of peace has been a target of terror attacks for more than a decade now.
Terrorism in Kenya started some time in 1998 with the U.S. Embassy bombing in Nairobi and has since then only become worse. In 2002, there was another bombing in Mombasa, this time targeting Israeli tourists. And more recently, there has been a gruesome duel between the Kenyan forces and the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab. In 2014 alone, between January and May, Kenya has already witnessed close to ten major attacks mainly in the Capital Nairobi and the second largest city of Mombasa. These attacks mainly target social places such as churches, hypermarkets and even open air markets. In the latest tragedy, 10 people were reported to be dead and 70 injured following two explosions at the popular Gikombaa Market at the heart of the Capital, Nairobi.
Terrorism in Kenya – Everything You Must Know
There have been several terror attacks in Kenya and when innocent Kenyans are losing lives it becomes unfair to classify one tragedy as more significant than the others. However, with all due respect for human life, the U.S. Embassy attack, the Mombasa bombing, and the Westgate attack can be said to be three of the most devastating terror attacks in the country’s history.
The U.S. Embassy attack 1988, Nairobi
This might as well be counted as the first major terrorist attack in Kenya’s history. The bombings were carried out on the 7th August, 1998, with simultaneous truck bomb explosions at the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. On the same day, the U.S. was celebrating an eighteenth anniversary since their forces entered Saudi Arabia. The Egyptian Islamic Jihad and Al-Qaeda were blamed for the bombing and al-Qaida leader, Osama bin Laden was, for the first time, put on FBI’s “top ten most wanted” list. Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah and Fazul Abdullah Mohammed were identified as the masterminds of the attack.
The attack damaged the embassy building which was the main target as well as the nearby Ufundi Building killing a number of innocent Kenyans mainly staff and students of a secretarial college housed there. A bus exploded on nearby Haile Selassie Avenue and shattering windows spread as far as one kilometer away leaving thousands with varying degrees of cuts and eye injuries.
The attack is reported to have left 213 people dead and 4,000 others injured.
The Mombasa bombing, November, 2002
Four years and three months after the Nairobi Bomb Blast, another attack was carried out in Kenya, this time in the coastal city of Mombasa. Mombasa is well-known for its tourist activities especially during and around major holiday seasons such as Christmas and the New Year. This attack took place on the 28th of November, just a few days before the usually busy month of December.
An all terrain vehicle intentionally crashed through a barrier outside the Israeli-owned paradise Hotel and upon blowing up killed 13 people, injuring 80 others. At the same time, two shoulder-launched Strela 2 missiles were fired at an Israeli Charter plane as it took off from Moi International Airport. Although the missiles missed the plane, flights between Kenya and Israel were cut off as soon as the Israeli plane touched down in Tel-Aviv. Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Abu Taha al-Sudan and Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan were accused of having masterminded the attack.
The Westgate Mall attack, September, 2013
If there was an attack so inhuman, so heartless and too painful to recount, it’s the latest of the three; the Westgate attack of 21st September 2013.
Unidentified gunmen found their way into the always busy Westgate Shopping Mall in Westlands, Nairobi, sprayed bullets at innocents at will and later engaged Kenyan Forces in a fierce fire exchange. Kenyan authorities could only manage to regain control of the building three days later on 24th September. At least 67 people lost their lives in the attack with more than 175 others reportedly injured. All the gunmen are reported to have been killed inside the building. Four Somalis have since been arrested in connection with the attack
If and when these ghastly attacks are going to end is difficult to tell; what is clear is that the country is in for a rude shock if the government isn’t going to find ways of dealing with terror. They already know its Al-Shabaab carrying out the terror attacks in Kenya ; something will have to be done to stop them. And that something will have to be done soon.