The French Embassy in Kenya has issued a terror alert to Western nationals, urging them to avoid places this weekend where foreigners gather, such as hotels and shopping centers, especially in the capital, Nairobi. The German Embassy sent that country’s citizens a less specific terror alert, urging caution. Kenyan police say they have seen the terror alert and have beefed up security.
Kenyan authorities say they have deployed enough security to respond to any planned terror attack in the country.
The step comes as France issued a terror alert and warned its citizens against visiting shopping malls and hotels, especially in the capital, Nairobi.
Kenya’s police spokesman, Bruno Shioso, told VOA they saw the alert on social media and there was no need to fear.
“I can’t comment on that but what I can tell you, Kenyans and the world, is that the country is so safe, we have put measures in place, we placed all major towns and critical areas with our security, our security guys are very alert and on the ground. So there should be no need for fear,” Shioso said.
In 2013, al-Shabab militants stormed the Westgate mall in Nairobi, killing more than 60 people. Another attack by the Somali terrorist group on the Dusit hotel three years ago killed 21.
Hassan Khannenje is the head of the Horn Institute for Strategic Studies. He says Kenya and other countries must work together to combat any security threat to the East African nation.
“It's important because the terror problem is an international problem that foreign countries with missions countries in the region are able to work with their local counterparts either to preempt or at least to be able to approach it in a more coordinated fashion because one of the challenges in fighting terror has been poor coordination among the key stakeholders, and that includes governments,” Khannenje said.
The Horn of Africa region is facing both political and security challenges. The Ethiopian government is involved in a war with its northern Tigray region. Somalia faces a political crisis that emanates from the delayed elections and Kenya is preparing for general elections in August.
Khannenje says the region needs to be on high alert to deal with those who want to benefit from its political volatility.
“This year is going to be very critical for the region in trying to manage those threats, because the challenge the region has faced, not just Kenya, is the moment there isn’t a massive attack, then people tend to be complacent and government response tends to be a little bit complacent and so this calls us to attention that as stakeholders and people who care about peace, peaceful citizens of the region should be more vigilant with regards to potential exploitation of the confusion of the chaos exist in the region today,” Khannenje said.
Since the beginning of this year, Kenyan security agencies have reported several attacks against people in Lamu County, which borders Somalia.
On Wednesday, suspected al-Shabab fighters in Lamu sprayed a convoy carrying judicial officials with bullets, injuring several people.