NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 2 – Police said Tuesday they were on a high alert following intelligence reports of imminent terror attacks in the country since the Kenya Defense Forces entered Kismayu port in Somalia.
Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe announced that security forces had increased surveillance and urged the public to be on the look out for people with ulterior motives.
“We have intelligence reports in respect to terrorist threats from Al Shabaab and their sympathisers since KDF entered Kismayu,” Kiraithe told a news conference Tuesday.
As a result, he said, “security forces in the country have heightened their surveillance to ensure the country is safe.”
He said intelligence reports had shown that Al Shabaab was actively recruiting women to carry out attacks, including acting as suicide bombers.
“There has been a misconception that it is only men who carry out suicide bombings. But we have established that since Al Shabaab have learnt that there is a lot of attention on men, they are now recruiting women to carry out the attacks,” he said and urged members of the public to be on the look out for women dressed in suspicious ways.
Such women, he said, should be thoroughly screened.
Kiraithe said they have established that most explosives—particularly grenades used in recent attacks are smuggled into the country from the lawless Somalia which is being liberated by the KDF and AMISOM allied forces.
Kenya has lately suffered several attacks, including Sunday’s explosion that killed one child and wounded nine others at a church in Nairobi.
On Monday night, two Administration Police officers were gunned down by suspected Al Shabaab attackers as they patrolled the border town of Garissa—making it one of the most volatile parts of the country.
“We have also sensitised our officers internally to be alert at all times,” he said.
Police headquarters has sent out an appeal to businessmen particularly those in the transport and hotel industry to always scrutinise their customers by verifying their identities, nationalities and their mission at respective places.
“Even if one has an identity card or passport, those documents should be thoroughly verified because some are fake,” he said.
Below are some of the guidelines issued by police headquarters as part of the safety measures to be undertaken in the country:
HOTELIERS/LANDLORDS/PSV OPERATORS ETC: KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER
• When dealing with your customers always endeavor to establish their identity by examining their identification documents. In a National Identity Card, check the names, date of birth, place of issue, date of issue, district of origin, Division, Location and sub-location.
• In case of a Passport, in addition to the above details, ascertain nationality, Date of issue, place of issue and expiry date. Also check the validity of the visa, the stated purpose of visit, date visa issued and the port of entry into the country. It is also important to take a special note of the countries previously visited. Most passports also have a page on description and in the Kenyan passport; it is normally on 2nd last page.
• Satisfy yourself that the identification provided corresponds with the holder, e.g. holding a passport or ID Card which they have signed but cannot reproduce a similar signature.
• Landlords: In addition to the above details device ways of establishing whether what the tenants keep and do in the rented premises is covered by the terms of the applicable tenancy agreement. For example does the tenancy agreement authorize storage or handling of explosives, welding, metalwork etc?
• P.S.V. Operators apart from knowing your passengers in the manner described above ascertain what luggage/cargo you are transporting. Remember ignorance of law is no defense and that the Public Service Vehicle (PSV) and other Transport Licensing Board licenses presume carriage of legitimate persons and goods.
• Remember you can be charged for aiding and abetting crime by failing to take preventive action.
• In addition to knowing your customers as indicated above, keep an eye on the inner and outer perimeter and make a note of persons showing interest. Challenge any stranger showing interest or idling around the premises.
• Contact your local OCS for cooperation.
• Where possible deploy modern technology including CCTV and scanning machines.
• Clearly ascertain the contents and identify the owner of luggage left with you or in any premises for which you are responsible. If you are not certain of the nature of the luggage or identify of the owner don’t allow.
• Never rush to check or interfere with unattended luggage it may contain explosives awaiting your interference to detonate.
• Endeavor to identify the person who may have left the luggage
• Report to authorities immediately
• Never run towards or approach a scene or explosion, be wary of secondary explosions
• Stay away from a scene of explosion and where possible know emergency exits for escape
• Give information to police on any account of the incident correctly and truthfully to assist in investigations.
• Carefully study and note peculiar characteristics
• Note any identifiable characteristics of the person for future description when necessary.
• Ask for identity before transacting any business.
• Report to authorities immediately of any suspicion or peculiarities.
• Politely create an opportunity to interview all strangers to establish their identity: who they are, where they are coming from and where they are going. Attempt interrogation to isolate open lies or deliberately inaccurate information. If they display anxiety or turn hostile- alert authorities.
TRAITS OF A SUSPECT
• Alone and nervous
• Loose and bulky clothing that may not fit the weather
• Exposed wires possibly through sleeves – for circuit detonation
• Rigid body – may be wearing an explosive vest
• Tightened hands – may be holding an explosive device
• Bulky suspicious luggage etc