NAIROBI - Authorities in Kenya have said that two suspected militants were among the four people killed in a car bomb explosion outside a police station in Nairobi.
Officials said the blast occurred after police took away two suspects for questioning, along with their car, after they were stopped late Wednesday at a red light in the Pangani neighbourhood. The car then exploded outside the police station, killing two policemen.
"The car was stopped at a checkpoint. The policemen had suspicions about the car, so they decided to take the suspects to the police station. They got into the car with them, another patrol car followed them. That's when they arrived at the police station that they blew the car," said Mwenda Njoka, an interior ministry official.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast, but the nearby Eastleigh suburb has been targeted in several attacks blamed on Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels.
Njoka said authorities were investigating the militants' intended target, and believed the fact that the bomb went off outside the police station was "coincidental".
The attack appeared to be the first car bombing in Kenya since the US embassy bombing in 1998, which was blamed on Al-Qaeda.
However last month two people were arrested in the coastal city of Mombasa along with a car expertly packed with explosives, although it remains unclear what their intended target was.
Tensions have been heightened in Eastleigh, nicknamed "little Mogadishu" because of its large population of ethnic Somalis, since the government launched a crackdown on suspected Islamist insurgents this month.
More than 650 suspects were arrested after at least six people were killed by three almost-simultaneous explosions targeting two restaurants and a clinic in a densely populated area of the suburb on March 31.
Rights groups say the counter-terrorism operation has indiscriminately targeted people of Somali origin, many of whom have been held without charge in appalling conditions while others have been deported back to their war-torn country.
Kenya has been targeted by Shebab since it sent troops to fight to neighbouring Somalia in 2011.
The Islamist group claimed responsibility for a devastating attack on Nairobi's Westgate mall last year in which at least 67 people were killed.