* Three dead, at least 8 wounded in blast near Nairobi
* No immediate claim of responsibility
* Mounting insecurity a worry ahead of March election
(Updates death toll, adds witness)
NAIROBI, Dec 7 (Reuters) - A bomb blast in a predominantly
Somali district of the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on Friday
killed three people and wounded at least eight, the Kenyan Red
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the
attack in the run-down Eastleigh suburb, the second explosion
there since Wednesday night. Local lawmaker Yusuf Hassan was
among the injured, Nairobi's police chief Moses Ombati said.
One Eastleigh resident, Said Abdullahi, said he heard two
gunshots followed by an explosion outside a mosque.
"Some of those injured were worshippers leaving the mosque,"
Abdullahi told Reuters.
Ombati said it was too early to tell whether a grenade or a
bomb caused the explosion and it was possible the casualty toll
Kenyan authorities have blamed Somali militants and their
sympathisers for a wave of grenade and gun attacks in Kenya
after Nairobi sent soldiers into neighbouring Somalia last year
to drive out Islamist rebel fighters with links to al Qaeda.
Kenya's government accuses al Shabaab rebels of making
cross-border attacks and blamed the group for the kidnapping of
Western tourists and aid workers.
Abdirashid Hashi, a Somalia analyst at the International
Crisis Group, said lawmaker Hassan was an open critic of the al
Shabaab rebel group's almost six-year campaign against Somalia's
Tensions have risen in the past two months in Eastleigh, a
part of Nairobi commonly dubbed "Little Mogadishu" because of
its large Somali population.
"It's too early to say who was behind this ... but I don't
think mosques are off-limits to al Shabaab," Hashi told Reuters.
It was not clear if Hassan, a former journalist at the BBC,
was the target of the attack.
Mounting insecurity is a growing concern as the region's
biggest economy prepares for a presidential election in March,
the first poll since a contested 2007 vote which unleashed
nationwide ethnic violence.
Unknown assailants on Wednesday detonated a makeshift bomb,
apparently by remote control, wounding at least nine people in
an attack that appeared to target Kenyan nationals.
In mid-November, a bomb ripped through a commuter minibus as
it travelled through Eastleigh in a deadly strike that sparked a
day of street battles between Kenyan nationals and ethnic
The attacks in Kenya have intensified since Kenyan troops,
fighting under the banner of an African Union peacekeeping
force, launched an offensive in late September against al
Shabaab's last major urban stronghold, the Somali port of
Kismayu, forcing the rebels to flee.
(Additional reporting by Humphrey Malalo and Noor Ali in
Isiolo; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Louise Ireland)