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Kenya beefs up security after warnings of possible attacks

Kenya has tightened security in the capital, Nairobi and other cities in the country after several European countries warned of the risk of possible attacks.

Heavily armed police officers were patrolling the streets of Nairobi on Friday and tight security was also visible outside government offices, public buildings and shopping malls.

“With regard to the French terrorist alert, we assure the public that the security of Kenyans, including critical infrastructure, is being tightened throughout the country, especially in the cities,” said police spokesman Bruno Shioso, “We urge Kenyans to remain calm and share any information on suspicious activities with the police.”

The French embassy in Kenya has issued a warning to its citizens against a “risk of attack in the coming days” in Nairobi, recommending to “avoid places frequented by foreign nationals” such as hotels, restaurants and shopping centres.

The French Foreign Ministry has reiterated the “real risk” of terrorist attacks in Kenya against public places frequented by foreigners. In an update on Thursday on its website, the ministry called on “people in Kenya (to) be extremely vigilant” and “avoid frequenting these public places in the coming days, including this weekend”.

The German embassy issued a similar warning to its citizens, while the Dutch representation said it had been informed by the French of the possible threat, describing the information as “credible”.

Since its military intervention in southern Somalia in 2011 to fight the Somali Islamists Shebab, Kenya has been the target of several deadly attacks, including against the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi in September 2013 (67 dead), against the University of Garissa (east) in April 2015 (148 dead) and against the Dusit hotel complex, in Nairobi, in January 2019 (21 dead).

In January 2020, the Shebab, a movement linked to Al Qaeda, warned Kenya that the country would “never be safe”. Kenya is a major troop contributor to the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), which in 2011 drove the Shebab out of Mogadishu. The Shebab still control large rural areas and regularly carry out attacks in the Somali capital.

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