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Kenya's anti-terror police question 7 suspects

Tuesday, June 05, 2012
by Christopher Omar and Peter Mutai

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NAIROBI, June 4 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's anti-terrorism police are questioning seven suspected terror suspects who were arrested over the weekend while filming the country's second largest airport as Nairobi is on security alert following Al-Shabaab threats.

Regional deputy police commander Moses Nyakwama said they have launched investigations to establish the motive behind the suspects who were taking photographs of the planes taking off and leaving Wilson Airport, the busiest airport in East and Central Africa.

"We arrested the suspects on Saturday while taking pictures of Wilson Airport. We have not established the motive behind their work and as a result handed them over to the anti-terrorism police unit for more interrogation," Nyakwama told Xinhua on Monday.

He said the suspects who had laptops and phones had captured images of planes leaving and taking off and also the area around Wilson airport, adding that they may be dangerous people with ulterior motive.

"We want to get every details of their movement in the country. They are giving us crucial information that needs interpretation. They are undergoing interrogation and may take some time before they can be taken to court," Nyakwama said.

The arrests came as the country's security forces have enhanced security at major installations in Nairobi and across the country following the arrest of wanted terror suspects in neighboring Uganda.

Uganda's News Vision reported on Monday that the suspects only identified as Hussein was arrested on Sunday night after his photographs have been circulated across the country of the terror suspects wanted in Kenya.

The Kenyan authorities are also seeking help from Ahmed Khaled, Andreas Martin Mueller and Emrah Erdogan alias Imraan Al-Kurdy alias Saladdin Al-Kurdy who are wanted for a series of grenade and bomb attacks in Kenya.

The move came after Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitioti said the government has resolve to safeguard the lives of its people and property in the face of terror threats by Somali insurgents.

"The Al-Shabaab is under very heavy pressure right now. Afmadow as you know has already been captured and they know very well it will be a matter of time, before Kismayu is taken," he said on Sunday.

"The capture of Kismayu is going to interfere with the revenue they have been getting through the port to continue with their work. So they are going to do everything possible."

Saitoti said the government is doing everything possible to safeguard its citizens through increased surveillance and enhancing policy capacity.

He said the anti-terrorism bill will soon be tabled in the Cabinet for approval and expressed optimism that Parliament would unanimously pass the bill that will play a key role in the fight against terrorism.

Speaking on Sunday evening upon his arrival from a two-week tour of China and the United States, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka noted that the country will not condone any act of terrorism and will hunt down the group so that Kenyans can live in peace.

He lauded the Kenyan soldiers on assignment in Somalia in their quest to bring stability both in Kenya and Somalia, adding that Kenyans have a duty to ensure the stability prevails in Kenya and its neighboring countries.

But Nyakwama said security had been stepped up and appealed to city residents to be extra vigilant and take security measures seriously, regardless of their status in society.

"We have received reports of new threat from Al-Shabaab of their plans to hit Kenya. We have stepped up surveillance measures and if anyone is planning to attack Kenya, let him or her know be prepared for a rude shock," he warned.

Al-Shabaab militants have vowed to attack Nairobi after the east African nation which hosted protracted negotiations that culminated in the signing of the federal charter for Somalia in 2005, invaded Somalia to flush out the insurgents it blamed for kidnappings of tourists.

"I am appealing to everybody in Nairobi to continue to be extra alert and to take the security measures being undertaken positive whatever social, political or economic," he said.

The regional deputy police chief said the suspects who were arrested at Wilson Airport had pepper spray, laptop, camera, binoculars and Ipads which have not a lot of information and which also needs proper analysis.,

"These people it seems have been moving from one place to another. We are not taking any chances because this is a matter of national security," Nyakwama said.

There has been a string of attacks by Al-Shabaab militants and their sympathizers since Kenya sent troops into Somalia in October 2011 to subdue the insurgents who were blamed for a series of murders and kidnappings on the Kenya soil.

The militant group has also come under pressure from African Union peacekeepers, who pushed them out of the Somali capital Mogadishu in August, and from Ethiopia, which seized the town of Beledweyne on Saturday.

Al-Shabaab is known for enforcing a strict brand of Islam in the areas under its rule and is believed to have links to al Qaida.

The group has also blocked most international aid workers from accessing some parts of Somalia suffering from drought and famine.


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