UPDATE 2-Second bomb this week kills three in Nairobi suburb

* Three dead, at least 8 wounded in blast near Nairobi

mosque

* 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

Cross said.

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

would rise.

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

Western-backed government.

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

Somalis.

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)

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