Kenya says that a bomb scare at a massive Nairobi mall was a false alarm

The Garden City mall in Nairobi is one of East Africa’s largest.
The Garden City mall in Nairobi is one of East Africa’s largest.
Image: Reuters/Thomas Mukoya
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This post has been updated.

Kenyan police have said that a bomb scare at Nairobi’s newest mall was a false alarm. Three man were arrested on Tuesday (Sept. 8) after one of them attempted to bring a handheld device believed to be a bomb into the Garden City Mall, in the northeast of the Kenyan capital.

The man attempted to enter the mall by foot around 4pm and was detained after he began acting suspiciously, according to a statement from the mall. He was carrying a small handheld device that authorities identified as a “live device.” It has since been “safely neutralized” by Kenya’s Explosive Ordinance Department, according to the statement.

The security company in charge of the mall told Bloomberg that the device connected to a mobile phone had contained about 500 grams (1.1 pounds) of explosives. But Joseph Boinnet, the city’s police inspector, called the device “an amateurish collection of phone wires strapped together to look like an IED.”

The $250 million mixed use complex is one of Nairobi’s newest malls, and one of the largest in East Africa. The city’s shopping malls have become a focal point for urban social life and a symbol for Nairobi’s development—as well as its vulnerability. The Somali extremist group al-Shabaab attacked the high-end Westgate shopping complex in 2013, killing 67 people, after the complex’s security measures failed. In the aftermath of the attack, police were captured on camera looting the mall, which has since reopened with tighter security.