Wiring could be seen protruding from wrapped-up bundles stuffed into the vests. Police said the neatly arranged packages contained explosives and were ready to be used. They also seized several mobile phone they said would likely have been used to trigger the bombs.

The Kampala bombings that killed 79 soccer fans watching the World Cup final were al Shabaab’s first on foreign soil and highlighted both their intent and capability to strike beyond Somalia’s borders.

Al Shabaab have threatened to bring down skyscrapers in the Kenyan capital. Counter-terror experts have doubted their ability to wage such a large-scale strike, but say they would have the capacity to attack soft targets such as bars and hotels.

“We believe they were intending to attack (sites) where there are big crowds, such as super markets, bars, churches and bus stations,” Ombati said.

Kenya has been dogged over the last year by a wave of explosions and gun attacks blamed on al Shabaab and their sympathizers in Nairobi, the port city of Mombasa and towns along its porous border with Somalia.Reuters