| GARISSA, Kenya
GARISSA, Kenya Feb 17 An explosion killed at
least one person in a Kenyan frontier town where a presidential
hopeful in the country's upcoming elections was due to hold a
rally on Sunday, police said.
Residents heard a huge blast late on Saturday night in the
eastern town of Garissa but police only managed to pin down the
site of the explosion to a primary school field on Sunday. It
was caused by an improvised explosive device (IED), they said.
Martha Karua, the only female presidential candidate in the
March 4 vote and among the lower-ranked candidates by most
polls, had been expected to speak at the grounds on Sunday
afternoon, regional police chief Charlton Mureithi said.
"Our initial assessment reveals the man was trying to set up
an IED near the dais, but killed himself as the device exploded
on him ripping his body into pieces," Mureithi told reporters.
The open field also lies next to an army camp in a town that
is used as a support base for Kenya's military mission in
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the
intended attack, police said.
Karua would keep her date with her supporters in the town
and would use a new venue because the primary school field was
now a crime scene, officials in her campaign team said.
Kenya has experienced a spate of violent attacks, mostly in
the capital and close to the Somali border, since it sent
soldiers into its anarchic neighbour in October 2011 to drive
out the al Shabaab Islamist rebels linked to al Qaeda.
The rebels have threatened to retaliate and have launched a
series of grenade and gun attacks that have raised concerns over
how secure the country is heading into the March 4 national
elections, the first since tribal fighting killed about 1,200
people following a disputed presidential vote in 2007.
Garissa, a market centre for trade in camels, donkeys, goats
and cattle some 200 km (120 miles) from the Somali border, has
borne the brunt of the wave of attacks. The largely Muslim town
has a significant ethnic Somali population.
In October, Kenyan soldiers and Somali forces seized
Kismayu, al Shabaab's last big urban stronghold in southern
Somalia, driving the militants out.
"Its by the grace of God that the person who was planning
evil died. Many people would have lost their lives if that
mission succeeded," said Abdi Jama'a, a local resident.
(Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Angus MacSwan)