Kenyan police intercepted a car packed with explosives, foiling a planned terrorist attack in the coastal city of Mombasa, authorities said Tuesday.
Officers from the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit arrested two men in the car in the Changamwe area of Kenya’s coastal city, the Kenya National Disaster Operations Centre said.
The two men were arrested on March 11 but it was not until March 17 that police discovered the explosives which were concealed under the seats of the suspects’ sports utility vehicle, said Mombasa county commissioner Nelson Marwa. A third suspect was arrested Tuesday, Marwa said.
“It is a Toyota … the chassis does not belong to that vehicle, the engine does not belong to that vehicle, the number plate does not belong to that vehicle,” Marwa said of the car the suspects were arrested in. “In it are two powerful explosives, motor vehicle explosives capable of mass destruction.”
Police on Tuesday displayed the explosives found in the vehicle, including six cylinders weighing 60 kilograms (132 pounds), six detonators, six grenades, an AK47 rifle and a cache of ammunition.
The police intercepted the suspects’ communications which led to the arrests, said Marwa.
The police invited the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations to assist with the probe of the planned attack, said Marwa. The planned target of the attack was not revealed.
Kenya has suffered a series of attacks since October 2011 when the government sent its troops into Somalia to fight the Islamic extremist rebels known as al-Shabab. Al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the terror attack on Sept. 21 last year on an upscale mall in Nairobi in which at least 67 people were killed.
The Anti-Terrorism Police Unit is Kenya’s lead agency in preventing terror attacks, though it operates on a shoe-string budget according to documents and a senior police official who spoke to the Associated Press.
In Nairobi, where terrorists attacked the Westgate Mall in September, the anti-terror police this month has a budgetary provision for essentials such fuel, travelling allowance, maintenance of cars and office supplies of about $735 according to documents seen by The Associated Press.