ISIOLO, Kenya (Reuters) - Kenyan police said on Saturday they had arrested three Somali al Shabaab rebels in the nation’s northeast and seized bomb making materials, a day after giving an alert on possible attacks during Easter.
Twice hit by al Qaeda attacks, Kenya is wary of its lawless neighbour Somalia and is among countries in the region supporting the fight against the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab.
On Thursday, police said they had information that al Shabaab planned to carry out attacks in heavily populated areas during the Easter holidays.
North Eastern Province police commander Leo Nyongesa told Reuters three rebels who were arrested as they ferried the materials from Kenya had sneaked in from Somalia and had been under surveillance.
“We have made a major breakthrough. Three al Shabaab rebels have been arrested inside Kenya. They were going back to Somalia with materials which they had come to collect in order to make bombs,” he said by phone.
Nyongesa said the three were being interrogated and were likely to be transferred to the capital Nairobi for further questioning by anti-terrorism personnel.
Al Shabaab, which has waged an insurgency against Somalia’s Western-backed government, claimed responsibility for twin bombings in Kampala as football fans watched the finals of the World Cup tournament on television in July, killing 79.
The insurgents have threatened to strike Kenya, east Africa’s biggest economy, with an assault similar to the attack on Kampala.
Last month police arrested six of their suspected fighters in Mandera on the Kenyan side of the border with Somalia.
Al Shabaab controls large swathes of central and southern Somalia, which has not had an effective central government since the 1991 overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.
Security sources said the rebels had also made deliveries of heavy weaponry in a bid to recapture areas near the Kenyan border they lost to Somali government troops.