JKIA joins airports globally in terror alert

July 7, 2011 9:30 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 7 – Police have enhanced security at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi following an international alert to airports across the world of imminent terrorist acts.

Vehicles and people entering the airport were subjected to thorough security screening since Thursday morning following reports that terrorists were planning to blow up planes with bombs surgically implanted inside their bodies.

"It is not only happening here at JKIA, security has been enhanced all over the world. We are screening people thoroughly to ensure there is safety here," a police officer at the airport speaking on condition of anonymity said.

More police officers were deployed to all entries and exits of JKIA.  Senior police officers there declined to be quoted on record discussing security matters, but confirmed that "there are tight security measures which were being implemented because of terrorism threats."

A UK-based newspaper the Mail Online quoting a leaked US advisory to foreign counterparts reported that the department of Homeland Security had identified a potential threat from terrorists considering surgically implanted explosives.

The threat, the paper said, was likely to come from overseas but precautionary measures are being undertaken in America and airports around the world, including at the JKIA.

"Until now, terrorists have attacked airlines, trains, buses and shopping centres by hiding bombs in bags, shoes or underwear to avoid detection," the paper said.

"But in a bid to foil airport scanners, the militants may have taken the most drastic measures, cutting themselves open and planting bombs within their bodies, leaked U.S. intelligence suggests."

The advisory did not however, state which specific group was planning the bombings.

"The leaked US advisory to foreign counterparts states: \’The Department of Homeland Security has identified a potential threat from terrorists who may be considering surgically implanting explosives or explosive components in humans to conduct terrorist attacks," the paper said Thursday.

According to the Mail Online, the threat of \’body bombers\’ was first revealed last year by an MI5 operation in England after an investigation into Al Qaeda tactics on internet message boards.

The memo sent by the Department of Homeland Security, however, reveals world leaders are now taking the threat so seriously security tactics at airports may have to be adapted, the paper added in an article posted Thursday.

"The method would be difficult to detect but body scanners do exist which are designed to identify chemicals, explosives and drugs at airports and other passenger terminals around the world," it wrote.

These include high-specification x-ray equipment that could identify body bombs.

The paper also quoted Nicholas Kimball, a spokesman for the US Transportation Security Administration saying that "\’As a precaution, passengers flying from international locations to U.S. destinations may notice additional security measures in place."

Authorities in countries around the world have been vigilant since the killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May following potential threats of reprisals.

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