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After threat by al-Shabab militants, two blasts rattle Nairobi

Police patrol outside a bar in downtown Nairobi where a dozen people were injured in an explosion Monday. A pair of blasts in Kenya’s capital came two days after U.S. officials warned of imminent attacks by terrorists.

Associated Press

Police patrol outside a bar in downtown Nairobi where a dozen people were injured in an explosion Monday. A pair of blasts in Kenya’s capital came two days after U.S. officials warned of imminent attacks by terrorists.

NAIROBI, Kenya — Grenade blasts at a blue-collar bar and a crowded bus stop rattled Nairobi on Monday, as the country worried whether al-Qaida-linked militants from Somalia were carrying out their promise to launch reprisal attacks in Kenya's capital.

The attacks came two days after the United States warned of "imminent" terror attacks. The warning had implied that the Somali group al-Shabab would carry out reprisals in response to Kenyan troops' invasion of Somalia in mid October. The militants had promised to unleash terror attacks in Nairobi in retaliation for the offensive.

Authorities said it was too soon to name suspects in either blast, though the small-scale blasts targeted Kenyans rather than foreigners as the U.S. warning had suggested.

Al-Shabab is loosely affiliated with al-Qaida and has carried out several sophisticated suicide attacks, including a bombing that killed more than 100 in Somalia's capital this month and an attack in Uganda's capital that killed 76 people in July 2010.

The first explosion toppled chairs and tables at a blue-collar bar near downtown around 1:15 a.m. Monday, wounding 12 people. In the evening, a grenade went off as throngs of people crowded the sidewalk and tried to jam their way onto raucous minibuses, the primary mode of transportation for the working class.

The Red Cross said one person was killed and eight wounded in the second attack.

The two attacks spurred debate over whether al-Shabab was involved.

In other developments on Monday, France said it would ferry supplies to Kenyan troops fighting al-Shabab. The announcement of the French assistance marks a significant stepup of international involvement in the fight against al-Shabab.

In a sign of the political complexities surrounding Kenya's operation, the Somali president said Monday that the Kenyan military incursion is "inappropriate and unacceptable," contradicting a statement from both governments last week that they were working together.

President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed said, "We welcome our collaboration with Kenya, but there are inappropriate things going on now."

After threat by al-Shabab militants, two blasts rattle Nairobi 10/24/11 [Last modified: Monday, October 24, 2011 11:28pm]
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