Kenya’s capital Nairobi and the coastal city of Mombasa face increased risk of attacks by extremists, the Australian government said.
By Sarah McGregor
Saturday, March 29, 2014
“We continue to receive regular reports that terrorists are planning a range of attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa,” Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs said in an updated travel advisorypublished on its website today. The country’s citizens should avoid the cities, according to the statement.
The East African nation endured its worst attack by Islamist militants in 15 years in September when al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab gunmen stormed an upmarket shopping mall in Nairobi, killing at least 67 civilians and security personnel. The group said the attack was revenge for the Kenyan troop presence in Somalia, where al-Shabaab wants to oust the government.
“In light of the current security environment, the level of advice for Nairobi and Mombasa has been increased,” the Australian government said in the statement. “We now advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Nairobi and Mombasa due to high threat of terrorist attack and high level of crime,” such as armed carjackings and home invasions.
There have been a series of “terrorist incidents” in Nairobi and Mombasa including grenade attacks on targets including a public bus and a tourist bar since December, according to the Australian government.
An improvised explosive device detonated at a restaurant at the main Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi in January, while on March 17 a “large quantity” of explosives and weapons were found in a car impounded by the police in Mombasa, according to the statement. Gunmen opened fire on a church in Mombasa on March 23, killing six worshipers, according to the Kenya Red Cross.
The Australian government didn’t identify individuals or groups behind the security threats, while it also warned its nationals against traveling to areas of Kenya bordering Somalia, Ethiopia and South Sudan because of the “extremely dangerous security situation.”
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on March 27 promised to make the most “extensive new investment in security” since the country’s independence from Britain in 1963, such as hiring more police officers and upgrading surveillance equipment.
To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah McGregor in Nairobi at [email protected]
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at [email protected] Chris Reiter, Alastair Reed