Muslim leaders in Kenya are expressing anger at the United States for issuing a terror alert Tuesday, warning Americans of a possible terrorist attack during a sporting event later this month in the coastal town of Mombasa. VOA Correspondent Alisha Ryu has the story from our East Africa Bureau in Nairobi.
The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi issued the terror warning for the World Cross-Country Championship on March 24. It said the event may have been targeted by what it calls "alleged extremist elements."
Embassy officials have declined to give additional details. But they are urging Americans to use extreme caution when frequenting prominent places in Mombasa and elsewhere.
On Wednesday, the secretary-general of the Council of Imams and Preachers in Kenya, Sheik Mohamed Dor, accused the United States of issuing the security alert to prevent his group from holding a protest march on March 24 against one of America's staunchest counter-terrorism allies, the Kenyan government.
"We are going to have peaceful demonstrations," he said. "The U.S. embassy thinks by giving false warnings, we are going to be afraid or we are going to pull out from those demonstrations."
In recent weeks, Dor had threatened to disrupt the international race unless the Kenyan government released all Kenyan Muslims being held on suspicions of engaging in terrorism.
Dor also claims that the government has deported a number of Kenyans to neighboring Somalia and Ethiopia to face terrorism charges there.
"These are Kenyans, who were arrested in Kenya during the invasion of Ethiopian forces in Somalia," he added. "Instead of our government charging those Kenyan citizens in our own courts, they sent their own citizens to a foreign country to be charged."
The Kenyan government has not commented on the Muslim leader's accusation. The U.S. ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneburger, says that the latest travel advisory for Kenya is not tied to a U.S. agenda.
"We have similar advisories on about 40 countries around the world," he explained. "So this is nothing specific with regard to Kenya."
Mombasa was the site of an al-Qaida-claimed terrorist attack on a hotel in November, 2002 that killed 12 Kenyans and three suicide car bombers.