A BOMB exploded on a bus in central Nairobi last evening during a security search before it left for the Ugandan capital Kampala, killing three and wounding 23, Kenyan police said.
The attack was carried out at the terminal of Kampala Coach Bus service on River Road. According to Kenya media, one of the suspected attackers was killed in the blast. Several of the victims were rushed to various medical facilities in Nairobi for first aid.
"What I can confirm so far is that one person is dead, and 26 are injured and have been taken to various hospitals," Eric Kiraithe, the police spokesman said.
"We suspect that one of the dead could be among the six people who had wanted to load the bag onto the bus, but this is yet to be confirmed."
'Two more people have succumbed to injuries in hospital, the death toll is now three including the owner of the luggage that exploded in the bus,' a senior Kenyan police officer at the scene told reporters.
'Twenty-three other people are admitted to hospital with various injuries,' he added, speaking on condition of anonymity. He said a man who had abandoned a piece of luggage on a nearby street was arrested. 'We are now trying to link this luggage to the attack on the bus,' he said.
Kenyan Police Chief Mathew Iteere did not explicitly call the blast a terrorist attack but mentioned 'an explosive device' in a piece of luggage as the source of the explosion. As police sealed off the blood-stained scene, bomb experts collected evidence around the red Kampala Coach bus, which appeared to have suffered limited damage.
An official with Kampala Coach Ltd said the attacker was among those wounded or killed by the blast, which went off when the suspect hastily abandoned his bag after realising that all luggage was being searched by security staff.
Kampala suffered twin suicide bombings on July 11 as football fans watched the finals of the world cup tournament in South Africa. A total of 79 people were killed in that attack, for which a Somali rebel group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility.
Ugandan security agencies had earlier said they were on high alert for a possible attack after their intelligence reports indicated al-Qaeda-linked groups could be planning to hit Uganda during the festive season.
"We already had prior information that al Qaeda allied groups such as ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) and al Shabaab were planning to launch attacks during this festive season, and we shared this intelligence with out counterparts in neighbouring countries," Uganda police spokesman Vincente Ssekate told Reuters.
"Our security and intelligence systems are tracking these plans, and we've also told the public to be on high alert."
The ADF is a rebel group trying to set up an Islamic state in Uganda.
Twice hit by al Qaeda-linked attacks, Kenya has long cast a wary eye at its lawless neighbour Somalia, where al Shabaab militants have been waging a three-year insurgency against the Western-backed Somali government and want to impose a harsh version of sharia (Islamic law).