Terrorism: Govt pledges more vigilance

Prime Minister Raila Odinga lays a wreath to mark the 10th Anniversary of the August 7, 1998 bombing in Nairobi at the Memorial Park. photo/ PMPS

What you need to know:

  • Government pledges increased surveillance and vigilance to counter terrorism.
  • PM rules out possibility of targeting specific groups on the war on terror.

  • Survivors intend to move to the International Criminal Court to seek justice.

The Government has pledged increased surveillance and vigilance as a measure to counter terrorism.

Speaking at the 10th anniversary of the August 7, 1998 bombing at the Memorial Park in Nairobi, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the Government will pursue and apprehend suspected terrorists within the country.

“Let me assure Kenyans that this Government will do everything possible to prevent us from ever again being attacked.”

But he ruled out the possibility of targeting specific groups on the war on terror, saying it would be counter-productive.

“It would generate the very disaffection and extremism on which terror thrives.

“It would be sheer madness to target it, or its followers. Kenya will never do so.  Our sole target is terrorists,” he said.

The move comes at a time when Kenya security forces are on the trail of Fazul Abdullah, widely regarded as the architect of the Al Qaeda-led Kenya and Tanzania 1998 bombings.

Internal Security minister George Saitoti said the country’s security agents have put in place measures to pre-empt future attacks.

“We have 24-hour surveillance on our borders to ensure that similar strategies do not occur.”

The mood was sombre for relatives and family of those who perished as survivors of the explosion expected the Government to speak about their compensation.

However, unlike previous anniversaries, the minute-long silence that is usually observed at 10.15am- the approximate time the blast occurred-went unobserved.

A section of the survivors blamed it on the late arrival of the dignitaries. Prof Saitoti was the first to arrive at 10.25am, followed by the Mr Odinga fifteen minutes later.

Ms Naomi Kerongo, on behalf of the survivors, spoke on compensation.

She said that despite President Kibaki having met with US President Bush, nothing tangible came out.

But Mr Odinga said that the matter was beyond President Kibaki since it had been shot down twice by the US congress.

The PM said that the Kenyan government had not done its best on the issue of compensation due to “the short-lived unity among political leaders following the incident, and other political crises and concerns” that led to a shift in focus.

“But from the intense interest that this 10th anniversary has kindled, you will see a more organised national philanthropic spirit tackling the issues that bedevil survivors.”

He added: “Even as we express solidarity with the suffering, we must pay tribute to the heroic way so many have coped.”

But even as others demanded compensation, some have decided to move on.

Ms Julie Ogoye, a survivor, said she was happy to be alive, “but if whoever responsible decides to compensate the victims, then I won’t mind.”

Ms Kerongo on the other hand said that her group would now go to the International Criminal Court to seek justice.

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