US warns citizens of possible terror attack in Kenya

Terror alert

Kenya's Anti-Terrorism Police Unit officers arrest a suspect in Mombasa on August 23, 2021. Security agencies in Kenya are on high alert for potential terror attacks. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The United States of America has warned its citizens in Kenya about a possible terror attack in Nairobi.   

In a statement on Friday, the US embassy in Nairobi said terrorists were targeting public places frequented by foreign nationals including restaurants, hotels, places of leisure and shopping malls especially in Nairobi.

“The US Embassy reminds the public of the continued need for sustained vigilance in public locations such as shopping malls, hotels, airports, clubs, restaurants, transportation hubs, schools, places of worship and other areas frequented by tourists. Public events, such as demonstrations and celebratory gatherings, are also at a higher risk for violence,” the statement read.

It added that public events, such as demonstrations and celebratory gatherings, are also at a higher risk for violence.

The embassy advised its citizens to review their personal security plans and to be aware of their surroundings while also monitoring local media for updates.

The latest security alert comes hours after several European countries issued a similar warning.

French Embassy

On Thursday, the French Embassy warned that persistent threats against Western nationals in Kenya pose a real risk.

It said that terrorists are targeting public places frequented by foreign nationals including restaurants, hotels, places of leisure and shopping malls especially in Nairobi.

“People in Kenya are advised to exercise extreme vigilance and avoid frequenting these public places in the coming days, including this weekend,” the alert reads.

On its website, the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development office (FCDO) advised against non-essential travel to areas within 60km of the Kenya-Somali border, Eastern Garissa County (up to 20km North-West of the A3).

Others are Mandera County (Excluding Mandera West Sub County), Lamu County (Excluding Lamu Island and Manda Island), areas of Tana River County North of the River Tana (up to 20km North West of the  A3) and within 15km of the Coast from the Tana River down to the Galana (Athi-Galana-Sabaki) river.

Dutch and German embassies in Nairobi have also issued similar advisories.

On Friday, the National Police Service (NPS) also urged Kenyans to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities to authorities.

The NPS has also assured members of the public that security had been beefed up in the country.

“The service has re-engineered its police units in line with modern-day policing dynamics, challenges and emerging threats. Security operations that ensure that imminent attacks are forestalled remain our priority,” the statement issued by NPS said.

Government officials

Armed group Al-Shabab regularly targets places frequented by foreigners or government officials in Kenya and neighbouring Somalia.

The Somalia-based group, founded in 2006, wants to impose a strict version of Islamic law and is fighting to overthrow the Western-backed government in Somalia.

The group used to control most major cities and towns in southern and central Somalia but a UN-mandated African Union peacekeeping mission has pushed them out of those areas.

Kenya has troops in Somalia as part of the peacekeeping mission.

In 2013, fighters from the al-Qaeda-linked group attacked an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi, killing more than 70 people. The siege on the mall lasted four days.

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