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Kenya issues alert over terrorist threat



The Foreign Office has issued a warning about the threat of a terrorist attack in Kenya.


After an alert from the Kenyan authorities about a heightened threat of an attack in Nairobi, it is urging tourists and expats in Kenya to be extra vigilant in hotels, shopping centres and beaches.

"We believe that terrorists may be in the final stages of planning attacks," it said.

"Attacks could be indiscriminate and target Kenyan institutions as well as places where expatriates and foreign travellers gather, such as hotels, shopping centres and beaches. We strongly advise British Nationals to exercise extra vigilance and caution in public places and at public events."


The Kenya Tourist Board said that many holidaymakers don't even overnight in Nairobi, heading straight off on safari from the airport.


A spokesman said: "Most guests flying in leave without going into Nairobi. Even still, security in Narobi has been so tight for a number of years."


Kenya sent troops into Somalia in October after a string of kidnappings and cross-border attacks which had threatened Kenya's tourism industry.



by Bev Fearis and Diane Evans

Monday, January 9, 2012



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  • The FCO travel advice unit's new Kenya paragraph

    It's hard to know what to make of Saturday morning's tweaked travel advice on Kenya. Was it a response to the sudden successes of the Kenyan armed forces in southern Somali against Al-Shabaab and the fear of imminent retaliation? Reportedly, fifty militants were killed in an assault on Friday. Or was it a diplomatic message to Kenya after a Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism team returned from advising their Kenyan counterparts at the beginning of the month and probably found huge gaps in competence and intelligence. The new advice is a paragraph inserted into the advice page, and the overall level of advice hasn't changed: "The Kenyan authorities have alerted the public to a heightened threat from terrorist attacks in Nairobi. We believe that terrorists may be in the final stages of planning attacks. Attacks could be indiscriminate and target Kenyan institutions as well as places where expatriates and foreign travellers gather, such as hotels, shopping centres and beaches. We strongly advise British Nationals to exercise extra vigilance and caution in public places and at public events." Meanwhile, travel companies and airlines are continuing operations normally, the Americans haven't altered their advice since November 4th last year, the Kenyan media has barely covered the story, and the Nairobi police chief has claimed there is in fact "no new, specific threat against Nairobi" in an interview to Reuters. Last week on Nairobi's Capital Radio, the talk about tourism was all about how bad the service was for local tourists over the Christmas holiday period compared with the way foreign tourists are treated. That's an interesting and worrying subject on its own, but set in a context that many visitors will be familiar with - increased security due to a genuine threat of terrorism, comparable with the mood in Britain after the 7/7 bombings or at the height of the IRA's mainland campaign. The question that needs to be put to the FCO travel advice unit is how far can they advise caution and extra vigilance without saying "we advise against all travel". At the moment the red warning, advising against "all travel", doesn't apply to any part of Kenya, not even the Lamu archipelago or the Somali borderlands, let alone to the whole country. For now, the mood on the ground in Kenya is not one of fear and panic but of concern and mild exasperation at the time it takes to get into a hotel or a shopping mall, with the quite elaborate security procedures that are widely in place and invariably conducted with very good humour. For anyone interested in following this story further, I've posted a virtually identical piece on my Rough Guide to Kenya blog, with links. http://theroughguidetokenya.blogspot.com/2012/01/fco-travel-advisory-imminent-terrorism.html

    By Richard Trillo, Monday, January 9, 2012

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