Kenyan capital on heightened terror alert

NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 5 – Police in Nairobi issued a fresh terror alert on Thursday after getting credible information that the Al-Qaeda was working closely with the Al Shabaab to plan renewed attacks.

Provincial Police Chief (PPO) Anthony Kibuchi 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 a new threat from Al Shabaab that the most notorious terror group Al Qaeda has joined and has threatened to carry out terror activities,” the PPO said.

He did not however elaborate on the nature of threats issued or places that are targeted.

He said the Al Shabaab had warned that they were collaborating with Al Qaeda operatives who planned to carry out terror attacks.

“I once again appeal to everybody in Nairobi to continue to be extra alert and to take the security measures being undertaken positively whatever social, political or economic status one might be holding,” the police chief added. (That particular comment follows reports of an altercation between Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza and a security guard at the Village Market shopping mall over security screening).

Security forces in Kenya have been on high alert since October last year when Al Shabaab started warning of retaliatory attacks in the country to protest a military crackdown targeting them in the lawless Somalia.

On Saturday, Police headquarters released photographs of 15 people believed to have information that can help in unravelling Al Shabaab criminal activities.

The 15 are alleged to have left Kismayu recently for Kenya, with some believed to have already entered the country with the intent of engaging in crime.

Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe said the group comprises nine Kenyans, two Asians and four Somalis aged between 24 and 32 years.

“Police have information that all the 15 left Kismayu recently headed for Kenya and some are believed to be already in the country,” Kiraithe said and urged members of the public to work closely with the police.

Police believe that most of the Kenyan suspects have resided in Majengo areas of both Nairobi and Mombasa, before leaving for Somalia about a year ago.

The police have asked anyone with information on their whereabouts to report to the nearest police station.

They include Ramadhan Kioko, Mwarabu, Amar, Juma Ayub, Jamadar, Farhani Ayub, Ericko Budalangi, Bashir, Baba Nawal, Athman Hamed aka Asu, Abdi Samadi Wadud and Ali Hashim Muhogo.

Another suspect who goes by the name Habib Saleh Ghani alias Osama has been classified as ‘very dangerous’ by police sources.

On Wednesday, a Mombasa court issued warrants of arrests against two people, including a Briton suspected to be involved in terrorism.

The warrant on Natalie Faye Webb and a local Habib Saleh Ghani were issued on Wednesday by a Mombasa court, barely a week after a photograph of one of them was circulated.

Police headquarters in Nairobi alleges that Webb has links with terrorists.

The arrest order was issued by Chief Magistrate Lillian Mutende following an application lodged by Anti Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) detectives who want to question her.

“I direct Anti Terrorism Police Unit to arrest Ms Natalia Faye Webb of Britain and a local Kenyan Habib Saleh Ghani with immediate effect,” the Magistrate ordered.

“Kenya cannot take any chance as far as acts of terrorism are concerned,” she added.

According to the police, Webb is suspected to be part of a terrorist network which has been operating in Kenya.

Since Kenya embarked on Operation Linda Nchi in mid October last year, strict security measures across the country have been the order of the day in almost all public places.

Despite the increased security, Kenya has suffered several attacks linked to the Al Shabaab militia group.

BERNARD MOMANYI

BERNARD MOMANYI

Bernard is the News Editor at Capital FM. He commands over a decade of experience in news gathering having worked in both print and electronic media. He holds a BSc degree in Information Sciences from Moi University where he is currently enrolled for a Masters programme.