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Kenya beefs up security ahead of 1st anniversary of mall attack

Heavy black smoke rises from the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya after multiple large blasts rocked the mall  Monday, Sept. 23 2013.

Sunday, September 21, 2014
By Chris Mgidu, David Musyoka and Joy Nabukewa

NAIROBI -- Kenyan authorities said Saturday they have intensified security across the country and along its borders with Somalia as the east African nation marks the first anniversary of Westgate mall attack.

The country's Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo said he has instructed all police commanders manning security in the country's major cities and towns to ensure round-the-clock surveillance for the safety of citizens.

On Sept. 21, 2013, hooded gunmen stormed the upscale Westgate mall in Nairobi, shooting dead of 67 people. Police and government officials were swift to call it a terror attack that also claimed some close family members of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

"The act is now behind us, but our solidarity sent a signal to our enemies that no matter what, we won't be distracted by their cowardly acts," Kimaiyo said.

He noted the police officers in northern Kenyan region, especially in Garissa, which borders Somalia, have stepped up patrols to ensure peace and calm prevail in all the six districts.

In the coastal city of Mombasa, authorities said the city has been on a high alert following last year's attack.

"Security is very tight. I have issued instructions to my officers to ensure that all is well in Mombasa and its environs," Mombasa police Commander Robert Kitur told Xinhua by telephone on Saturday.

"We have also enhanced security patrols around tourism facilities to ensure that visitors in Mombasa and other attraction sites are secured," Kitur said.

The port city, the capital Nairobi and other parts of Kenya have suffered a series of grenade attacks since Kenya sent troops into Somalia in 2011 to try to pursue Al-Shabaab insurgents it blames for a surge in violence and kidnappings threatening tourism.

The East African nation's coastal towns are the backbone of the country's thriving tourism industry, which has been hit by the fear of terror attacks and the kidnapping of foreigners by Somali pirates from resorts near the border with Somalia.

Kimaiyo said the police have doubled patrols across the country, adding that response teams and specialized units will be on standby at all times for any eventuality.

He warned against the laxity in the screening of cars for explosives at all shopping malls and any business or social gatherings that might be vulnerable to attacks, adding that searching and frisking patrons in shops, supermarkets, hotels and other areas must be thoroughly done.

He also called on all agencies and institutions that have relevant mandate in law enforcement to jointly work together as a team.

"The private security providers should brief their staff thoroughly to ensure that they enhance their vigilance in all areas they are guarding," he added.


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