For the better part of the afternoon yesterday and early evening, Nkurumah road in Mombasa was a no go area as buildings around Ambalal were evacuated after a bomb scare. Unattended luggage was left outside the building in a black bag and people got suspicious and called the police. During that time, people working in offices at Ambalal and TSS building cleared as the entire street was locked down interrupting traffic flow around the area.
Curious wananchi started milling the area, crowding about 50M from the bag. The police who first arrived at the scene had a hard time keeping the public far from the suspicious package and had to physically force the residents to move back. One resident complained later and said that the GSU should have detonated the bomb instead of ‘harrasing’ wananchi chasing them away from the scene. He apparently wasn’t happy with how the police were forcing the crowd back to a point where he couldn’t see what was happening.
Finally, the bomb squad arrived with their equipment and a dog only to reveal that the bag contained clothing and nothing else. To the dismay of many Mombasa residents in the crowd that wanted to follow the whole saga from as close as possible. It was as if they would have preferred to be peering over the shoulders of the bomb squad officers in what is a life and death situation.
“I cannot believe the multitude of people standing around that street awaiting hell knows what!” said Rose Ajode
Priscilla Oyugi wondered
“people are so eager to die. You are told to move back there is danger instead you crowd the place as if red cross is distributing food. Suppose it’s a real bomb?”
Clearly, a lot needs to be done to educate the residents from crowding around potentially dangerous places or situations. Terrorists have been known to trigger small explosions which draw onlookers and thereafter detonate a bigger explosion targeting the ‘crowd’.
The matter also played out longer than it should have as the officers took about two hours to inspect the package. This heightened anxiety among those following the events on location or via social media. Ambalal is about 500m from Mombasa central police station and the police would easily have been there in 3-5 minutes. If this was a test of their preparedness and responsiveness, then they certainly don’t score highly.
This is the third scare in a space of two months after 4 people were dramatically arrested at City Mall on suspicions of planning to bomb the mall were released as it turned out to have been a false alert. This was followed by the evacuation of a church after a car that was parked drew suspicion resulting in the abandonment the of Easter service.