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14 Riverside attack:Violet Kemunto, wife of key terror suspect among 9 arrested

Violet Kemunto, who is alleged to have been married to one of the suspects of the 14 Riverside terror attack, Ali Salim. PHOTO | COURTESY

New details continue to emerge about the assailants who staged a terror attack at the 14 Riverside Drive in Nairobi.

The attack left 21 dead, scores injured with more than 700 rescued. 50 are still missing according to Red Cross reports.

Detectives have arrested so far 9 suspects among them the the alleged wife of key terrorist Ali Salim Gichunge alias Farouk.

Violet Kemunto is said to have been living with Gichunge, one of the main terror suspects who was killed during the operations at 14 Riverside attack.

Kemunto was arrested in Mucatha, Ruaka, Kiambu County at a house where Gichunge is said to have been living.

Detectives say Kemunto had been living with Gichunge for about a year, and was referring to herself as an ‘Alshabaab bride’.

The woman, who police are treating as a key suspect, is said to have pursued a degree in Journalism at Masinde Muliro University where she graduated in 2014.

She was an accredited scribe by the Media Council of Kenya.

The neighbours, described Kemunto as a reserved woman who always covered her face with a hijab most of the time. On her WhatsApp profile, Kemunto described herself as an Al-Shabaab bride.

Also in custody is Sakina Mariam, Salim’s mother  popularly known as ‘Mama Ali’ who was arrested at Waso village, in Isiolo County. She was brought to Nairobi for questioning.

She separated with Gichunge’s father, who is a military officer, attached to the 78 barracks in Isiolo.

Ali Salim Gichunge, key terrorist who was killed at the scene, Riverside Drive attack on Tuesday 15th January, 2019/COURTESY

Detectives are also in pursuit of Mariam Abdi, who is alleged to have ferried the weapons used by the attackers.

Mariam, a resident of Bondeni in Mombasa County has not been to her home since Sunday, with neighbours unaware of her whereabouts.

Investigators were closing on her, for transporting the deadly arms sourced from Somalia to Nairobi through Lamu and Mombasa.

Detectives conducted an early morning raid on Thursday at Ushirika estate and arrested one man, said to be a key ally of the dusitD2 attackers. His constant communication with the attackers, as outlined in the phone call logs making him a person on interest, according to police sources.

Another suspect was arrested at the Two Rivers mall, while having a meal at a restaurant, after his mobile phone number was tracked.

Another suspect was apprehended at a restaurant along Kimathi Street, in the city centre, with detectives disclosing that he was in communication with the terrorists before and during the attack.

At the heart of the probe is CCTV footage captured along Limuru Road, Uhuru Highway and Chiromo Road before and during the Tuesday terror attack.

Police sources disclosing that the terrorists, in a group of 7, had lunch at an eatery located at a petrol station along Limuru road, and thereafter, 5 of the men boarded the vehicle, a Toyota Ractis KCN 340E, and headed to the scene of terror attack.

Two of the remaining men are on police radar.

And the effects of the Tuesday attack could have been more devastating, were it not for the swift and methodical intervention of the security forces.

On Thursday, specialised officers detonated 4 grenades that had been laid by the attackers around the Dusit complex. The vehicle that the attackers used to access the scene was also dusted by local and foreign detectives to gather more evidence, before it was moved.

Detectives say the dusitD2 terror attack investigations will be intelligence-led, with all possible angles explored to nab as many suspects as possible.

Up until the incident, Gichunge had been living at the Guango Estate, Mucatha, coughing up more than Ksh.40,000 in monthly rent according to police reports.

Officers who stormed house No E9 where the attacker had been living in discovered a hole in which a cache of weapons had been stashed.

A witness who claims to have been living next-door described the attacker as a friendly man who was cordial with his neighbors but was rarely in the house.

Gichunge was born in 1995 in Isiolo County where he attended Hekima Primary School before proceeding to Kibiricha Secondary School.

His father Ali Gichunge, a KDF sergeant, has told investigators that he was last in contact with his son in 2015.


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