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Kenya asks FBI to help investigate attacks on police

By on December 4, 2010

Kenya has asked the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to help probe two separate grenade and gun attacks that killed three police officers, the chief of police said on Saturday.

Kenyan police said they hoped to draw on the FBI’s experience dealing with explosives and tracing the origins of arms. The U.S. agents were expected to team up with their Kenyan counterparts later on Saturday, Commissioner of Police Mathew Iteere said in a statement.

Some security analysts say sympathisers of Somalia’s al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group may have been behind the attacks. One occurred in Nairobi’s predominantly Somali suburb of Eastleigh that is awash with small arms, police say.

In the first attack during Friday’s morning rush hour, unidentified men lobbed a hand-grenade at a police car, killing one officer. In the afternoon, two armed men shot dead two traffic policemen who had pulled their motorcycle over before hurling a grenade at onlookers.

It was too early to establish a link between the attacks, but there were indications of prior planning, police said.

“We shall do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of this. We have invited the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation to assist in the investigations,” Iteere said.

Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said investigators had not ruled out a militant attack and every angle was being pursued.

“We have not been able to rule out that they (traffic police) were the actual targets but there is a gut feeling that maybe if these guys had got to their destination it would have been worse,” Kiraithe told a news conference.

Western intelligence agencies cite Somalia as a fertile breeding ground for Islamist militants that is attracting a growing number of foreign fighters.

The FBI also helped neighbouring Uganda investigate al Shabaab’s twin bomb attack on the east African nation’s capital Kampala that killed 79 people.

Twice hit by al Qaeda-linked attacks, Kenya has long cast a wary eye at its lawless neighbour Somalia, where warlords and Islamist insurgents have reduced the government to impotence.

Analysts said the attack could also have been carried out to settle a grudge against the Kenyan authorities who routinely raid the Eastleigh suburb to weed out illegal Somali immigrants.

Reuters.

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