UPDATE 2-Kenya bomb blast wounds nine people in Nairobi

Richard Lough
Reuters Middle East

* Kenya has blamed Somali militants for such bomb attacks

* No one has yet claimed responsibility for blast

(Updates casualty toll, adds local resident quote, colour)

NAIROBI, Dec 5 (Reuters) - A suspected remote-controlled

bomb tore through a predominantly Somali neighbourhood in the

Kenyan capital Nairobi on Wednesday, wounding up to nine people

during the evening rush hour.

Ambulance sirens wailed through the city's congested streets

and a Reuters witness at the scene saw pools of blood on the

ground. The victims had been swiftly moved from the blast site.

Kenyan authorities have blamed Somali militants and their

sympathisers for a wave of grenade and gun attacks in Kenya

after Nairobi sent soldiers into neighbouring Somalia last year

to drive out Islamist fighters with links to al Qaeda.

Moses Ombati, Nairobi's police chief, said it appeared the

bomb had been planted near a trader's kiosk earlier in the day.

"We think it was detonated by remote control," Ombati said

by phone from the blast site where plastic household utensils

littered the ground.

The attack appeared to target Kenyan nationals in Eastleigh,

a rundown part of the city where there is widespread resentment

towards the Somali immigrants who run many of the local


Nine people were wounded in the blast and three of those

victims were in a critical condition, the Kenyan Red Cross said

on the social media site Twitter.

An angry crowd pressed against a police cordon and demanded

that Somalis, many of whom fled years of fighting in their home

country to settle in Nairobi, leave the city.

"Why is this happening to the local people and not the

Somalis. Let the police leave this place and we'll sort it out,"

said one Eastleigh resident who did not give his name.

The explosion could be heard several kilometres away in

Nairobi's central business district. There was no immediate

claim of responsibility for the attack.

Last month, a grenade attack on a bus in Eastleigh that

killed nine people triggered a day of street battles between

Kenyan nationals and Somali Kenyans and their ethnic kin.

Mounting insecurity is a growing concern as the region's

biggest economy prepares for a presidential election in March -

the first poll since a contested 2007 vote which unleashed

nationwide ethnic violence.

(Additional reporting by Humphrey Malalo and Maina Kariuki;

Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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