One person has been killed and at least nine others injured after a bomb explosion ripped through a Somali-dominated area in the Kenya's capital city of Nairobi, officials said Friday.
According to officials, the explosion was the result of a suicide bomb attack. It is believed the lone person killed in the blast was the suicide bomber, while a child was among the injured.
Kenyan cities and towns have witnessed several such blasts as well as hit-and-run grenade attacks in recent months. Most of them have been blamed on Somalia-based al-Shabaab Islamist militant group.
Al-Shabaab is Somalia's most prominent and influential Islamist militant unit, and is branded a terrorist organization by the United States and most of the international community. The al-Qaeda aligned outfit is the military wing of the Islamist movement ousted by Ethiopia-backed Somali forces in 2006.
Until recently, al-Shabaab and other allied groups controlled large areas in southern Somalia where they enforced strict Islamic laws or Sharia. In recent months, Somali forces, backed by African Union peacekeepers and Kenyan troops, have managed to seize control of most regions, except some pockets that are under rebel control.
Kenyan troops are currently in Somalia as part of a cross-border operation aimed at driving al-Shabaab militants away from the border separating the two nations. Since their arrival in Somalia last year, Kenyan forces have managed to capture several al-Shabaab strongholds, but the militant group has retaliated with several terror attacks inside Kenya.
The latest attack in Nairobi came just ahead of a visit to Kenya by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as part of a broader Africa tour. In the course of her Africa tour, Clinton is expected to meet Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki in Nairobi on Saturday and Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed later.
Two days earlier, Somalia's National Constituent Assembly (NCA) had voted to endorse a draft constitution, paving the way for formation of a new government before the United Nations mandate of the current governing authority, known as the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), ends on August 20.
Nevertheless, the draft constitution has to be ratified by a new NCA-chosen 275-member parliament to take effect. The new parliament also has the responsibility of electing a new president. Although the original plan was to put the new constitution to a referendum, it was later scrapped as holding a public vote across the troubled country under the present circumstances is virtually impossible.
Incidentally, Somalia has been without a functioning government since the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre's government in 1991. Currently, the UN-backed interim government set up in 2004 is struggling to enforce its authority in Somalia.
by RTT Staff Writer
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