Four Somali suspects in Kenya 2014 airport blast acquitted

NAIROBI (AFP) - Four Somali men charged over an explosion at a coffee shop at Nairobi's international airport in 2014 were acquitted Monday (Jan 22) due to lack of evidence.

The men had denied they were members of the Somalia-based Al Shabaab Islamist group and had carried out the attack, which came four months after militants struck the capital's Westgate mall, killing at least 67 people.

There were no casualties in the blast at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, which police initially blamed on a "loose light bulb" falling into a waste paper basket.

After a bullet-ridden car containing a dead body and explosives was found the following morning at a housing estate near the airport, they were obliged to change their story.

Magistrate Roselyn Oganyo said the prosecution had failed to prove the charges against Hassan Abdi Mohamed, Mohamed Osman Ali, Yusuf Warsame and Garad Hassan Fer.

"Having considered the evidence adduced before court I find that the prosecution failed to prove its case against each of the accused persons beyond any reasonable doubt," she ruled.

The magistrate acquitted them of more than 12 counts they faced, including being unlawfully present in the country and possessing explosives.

Kenya faced a series of attacks after sending troops into southern Somalia in October 2011 to help fight the Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab.

In its bloodiest single attack on Kenya so far, Shabaab gunmen raided a university in Garissa in April 2015, killing 148 people, most of them students. Since then most attacks have targeted the remote northeast region bordering Somalia.

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