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Four charged over Nairobi airport blast get bail

12 February 2014, 19:50

Nairobi - A court in the Kenyan capital on Wednesday released on bail four Somali men charged in connection with a blast last month at Nairobi's international airport.

The explosion took place on January 16 at a cafe adjacent to one of the terminal buildings at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), the region's busiest transport hub. There were no casualties.

Police initially played down the incident, insisting a "loose light bulb" had fallen into a waste paper basket.

After a bullet-ridden car containing a dead body and explosives was found the following morning at a housing estate near the airport, they were obliged to change their story.

A judge ruled Wednesday that the four could be bailed if they could pay a bond of $230,000 each.

"The court has to give protection on both sides and cannot take away the rights of the accused as provided by the Constitution," Doreen Mulekyo ruled, adding that the prosecution had failed to prove the accused would interfere with witnesses or tamper with evidence if they were released.

Hassan Abdi Mohamed, Mohamed Osman Ali, Yusuf Warsame and Garad Hassan Fer were charged a week ago with being behind the attack.

If they are able to pay the bail, the four will have to report to police every Friday until further notice.

Leonard Bwire, an officer with the police anti-terrorism unit, said the four had acquired Kenyan passports illegally.

Fire gutted part of Nairobi's JKIA airport in August. Investigators said it was caused by an electrical fault.

Since Kenya sent troops into southern Somalia in October 2011 to help fight the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents, it has been hit by a series of attacks.

The Shebab claimed September's attack on Nairobi's Westgate mall, in which at least 67 people were killed.

Grenades have been hurled into restaurants in crowded areas in Nairobi as well as on the popular tourist Indian Ocean coast, and there has been a string of attacks in the remote northeast region bordering Somalia.




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