Kenya charges suspected Somali militants with terrorism offences

NAIROBI Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:16pm GMT

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NAIROBI (Reuters) - A Kenyan court in the city of Mombasa charged two suspected Somali Islamist militants with terrorism-related offences on Wednesday, two days after they were arrested driving a car carrying pipe-bombs and grenades.

Anti-terror police seized the two after detectives and foreign agents intercepted telephone communications they made with suspected insurgents inside Somalia.

The Kenyan parliament has called for better coordination after the failures of the security and intelligence agencies in handling an attack on a shopping mall in the capital Nairobi in September that killed at least 67 people.

Officials have said the bombs the suspects, Abdi Aziz Abdullahi Abdi and Issak Noor Ibrahim, were found with were ready to be detonated.

Although police said an attack had been foiled, the case has heightened fears among Kenyans at the relative ease at which foreign militants appear to move within the country.

"You were found in possession of a stolen motor vehicle that was carrying the deadly weapons ... indicating that you were armed with intent to commit a felony, namely murder," said a prosecutor reading the charges in court, as an interpreter translated into Somali.

The two denied all seven charges they face, including being members of al Shabaab, a designated terrorist group. They were remanded in custody.

Police recovered from their car six cylinder bombs weighing 10kg each, half a dozen grenades, an automatic rifle and mobile phones that detectives said were to be used as detonators.

Forensic investigators on Tuesday combed the vehicle for evidence after explosives were found welded under the seats and bonnet. Robots were used to disable the bombs.

Somalia's al Shabaab rebels have said they attacked the Nairobi mall to avenge Kenya's deployment of troops in Somalia, where an African Union force is battling the al Qaeda-linked militants, and have threatened more blood-letting on Kenyan soil.

(Editing by Richard Lough and Hugh Lawson)

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