Grenade attack kills at least two in Kigali

There was a grenade attack in the Giporoso suburb of Remera, near Kigali International Airport at around 7pm tonight. The grenade was reportedly tossed from a motorbike. Early reports suggest at least 2 people were killed in the blast. 28 were injured, 10 of whom are in a critical condition. Two minibuses were also reportedly damaged in the attack,

Eyewitnesses say a grenade blast has killed at least two people in a suburb of Rwanda’s capital. The blast went off during Friday evening rush hour near a busy taxi park located about a mile (2 kilometres) from Kigali International Airport. The area is heavily patrolled by the army and police. Police quickly cordoned off the area as the wounded were brought to hospitals. Rwandan Police Spokesman Superintendent Theos Badege confirmed the incident and said that police were pursuing the assailants. link

There were 10 grenade attacks in Kigali in 2010. This is the first time an attack has happened in the Giporoso district. It seems likely that tonight’s attack is connected to the previous attacks, which started in February, 2010.

The last grenade attack to occur in the capital was on 11 August 2010, just a few hours after the 2010 Presidential election results were announced. See the map of Kigali below and click on the pins to find out more about the previous attacks.

View Kigali grenade attacks 2010 – 2011 in a larger map

The latest attack comes ahead of the Heroes Day national holiday on 1 February and local elections which are slated for February – March period. It also follows a communique from the U.S. Embassy in Kigali earlier this week warning of “heightened security concerns”.

UPDATE: Great Lakes Voice visited the scene soon after the attack and has more,

“The numbers of the victims are 28, only three have been killed a10 of them seriously injured and others are surviving with minor injuries.” Theos Badege told Great Lakes Voice

At the scene, our reporter said that He saw, three people handcuffed and escorted to the police car and the police officer said were ‘suspects’.

Two tax omnibuses were seriously destroyed by the blast, boutique and two motorcycles. The security members, Kigali city mayor and the local people clicked their lips seeing the blood.

“We were here in the boutique with the colleagues, and then the motorcycle came here and immediately, I saw fire coming from the wheels and without our knowledge, the MTN vendor was down just after the blast,” the witness at the scene identified as only Philippe said

according to this eye witness, the driver of the motorcycle was rapped in his black jacket all most died and he was the only police lead to tress the suspects. link

UPDATE: Much to it’s credit, the U.S. Embassy sent out an email alert within a couple of hours of the attack. It is now online,

The U.S. Embassy in Kigali learned that a grenade explosion occurred in the Remera-Giporoso area of Kigali near an Engen petrol station at approximately 7:00pm this evening. Two people are dead and more than two dozen have been injured. The Embassy urges U.S. citizens in Rwanda to remain vigilant, exercise caution, and avoid crowds, demonstrations, or any other form of public gathering. link

UPDATE: A journalist, who visited the scene of the attack late in the evening of 28th January tells me,

“Several eyewitnesses confirm that they saw a motorbike pass the bus/taxi stand just before the explosion. 3-4 dead bodies in the street, a taxi driver was just 20 metres from the blast and his friend got seriously hurt – blood from the tummy and the right leg. Three people were taken by the police on the spot, one of them hurt. A women said she thought it was one of the men on the motorbike.”

“Between 40-50 people were waiting for the bus/taxi, according to eyewitnesses, when the attack took place. A lot of people were still on the spot at 00:01 last night, many of them shocked. One man tried to stop blood coming out from a woman’s neck with his hands, he doesn’t know if she survived. At saw least 15 police and armed military patrolling the area and checking cars.”

UPDATE 29/01/11: Jenny Clover gives a personal, eyewitness account of the attack,

The bus Sean and I were travelling home on at 7pm was just pulling into Giporoso bus station in Remera (the stop nearest to our house) and we were preparing to get off when we heard the bang. A second or two of reflection and I think we both realised that there couldn’t be an innocent explanation for the noise. I looked outside the window and saw a woman running away from the direction of the noise, and a few police officers running towards it. But that was it. Everyone else seemed to be carrying on as normal. The bus conductors, feisty as ever, were still trying to usher people on to their buses, and the motorbike taxi drivers were still just sitting there, leaning on their handlebars.

We paid our conductor and, still wondering what had just happened, walked 20 yards or so in the direction of the bang. As we turned the corner things still felt normal: there were cars, buses and pedestrians everywhere as usual, and everyone seemed remarkably calm considering they had escaped the attack by a matter of metres and seconds. And there was still no sign of the grenade, until I spotted the twitching feet. link

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