Kenya security tight after Uganda blasts

July 12, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 12 – Security was enhanced at the Kenyan boarder with Somalia on Monday, following Sunday night\’s twin blasts in Uganda as crowds watched the World Cup finals, killing at least 74 people, a military official said.

At least 51 people were still hospitalised by Monday evening after they sustained injuries from the explosions which ripped through an Ethiopian restaurant and another at a rugby open field.

Some 20 others were treated and discharged from various hospitals and there were fears the death toll would rise, due to the condition of some of those admitted to hospital.

Authorities in Uganda blamed the deadly attacks on Al Shabab militants furious with the country\’s support to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia and the deployment of Ugandan troops as part of an African Union force.

"We have tightened security at the borders, there should be no worry at all," Kenya\’s Military Spokesman Bogita Ongeri told Capital News.

"We are all aware of what happened in Uganda, we are very much alert. Kenyans should not be worried at all, we are very vigilant at the borders," he said when reached on telephone.

Truckloads of military personnel and the police continued to patrol the 682-km border that stretches from Liboi at the Coast all the way to Mandera in the North, with strict checks on aliens and Kenyans traversing the two countries.

Some members of communities living along the border areas have intermarried with clans on the other side, making it a challenge for security forces that monitor their movement, according to police officers who have worked there previously.

Two weeks ago, President Mwai Kibaki sought to assure Kenyans that the government was deploying adequate security personnel along the country\’s border with Somalia to deal with the insecurity posed by the instability in the neighbouring country.

Speaking during the commissioning of officer cadets at the Kenya Military Academy in Nakuru, President Kibaki said the deteriorating situation in Somalia remains a key security threat to Kenya among other neighbours and that it has degenerated from a regional challenge to a global problem.

He expressed the government\’s total commitment to working closely with other Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) member states, the African Union and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia in search for sustainable peace.

"The deteriorating situation in Somalia has been a key security challenge. Today, this challenge has graduated from being a regional problem to a global challenge," the President said.

"There is now urgent need to address the twin challenges of extremist insurgency in Somalia and piracy off the Somali coastline and the Indian Ocean waters", the statement issued in Nairobi two weeks ago said.

Police in Busia said they had been instructed to thoroughly vet immigrants at the border during joint security operations with Immigration officials.

The tight security at the Kenya-Uganda border followed an investigation in the neighbouring country where detectives were reported to have sealed off possible entries and exits in search of people who may have planned the blasts.

Authorities in Uganda said they had identified two mutilated bodies of people suspected to be suicide bombers but believed that they must have worked with other masterminds.

A statement from the Foreign Affairs Ministry said President Kibaki had condemned the Kampala explosions and even went ahead to assure his counterpart Yoweri Museveni of his country’s support in bringing the perpetrators to book.

“I condemn this heinous and cowardly act which should only serve to strengthen our collective resolve to stamp out the evil of terrorism and promote a culture of peace and tolerance within our region,” the President said and pledged “the full support of the Government of Kenya in working together with Your Excellency’s Government to bring the perpetrators to justice.”


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