, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 10 – Police headquarters has dismissed as a hoax, a text message circulating since Monday night, warning of an imminent plot to bomb Nairobi.
Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe said the alert purporting to have been generated from the UN office in Nairobi “is not credible and should be ignored.”
“Police headquarters would like to inform the public that the alert in question is not from the UN office in Nairobi and to the best of our knowledge there is no such intelligence from any credible source,” the police spokesman said.
He urged the public to ignore the alert and always clarify with authorities whenever they receive such alerts or any other sensitive reports on the country’s security.
“We therefore advise the public to go about their business and to continue observing the normal security precautions as advised during our regular briefings or by the local police establishments,” Kiraithe added.
The alert circulated via mobile phones from Monday night read as follows: “SENDING AS RECEIVED – UN has issued a strong alert of a bomb threat in Nairobi tonight. Please be careful and notify your relatives and friends of the same.”
Several concerned listeners began telephoning 98.4 Capital FM making enquiries about the ‘threat.’
The text message was also forwarded to this reporter and several other employees at the station, prompting efforts to seek a clarification from police headquarters.
The police spokesman told journalists investigators were trying to trace the user of the mobile phone that first generated the text message.
“This is an investigation that is currently going on and appropriate action will be taken once we establish all the facts,” Kiraithe said.
Last week, Nairobi police warned of renewed terror attacks from Al Qaeda network which it said was working closely with Al Shabaab to plan atrocities in the capital.
Provincial Police Chief (PPO) for Nairobi 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 last week.
The alert prompted the UK to warn its nationals of a heightened risk of attack in the capital, saying it believed attacks may be in the final stages of planning.
“The Kenyan authorities have alerted the public to a heightened threat from terrorist attacks in Nairobi. We believe that terrorists may be in the final stages of planning attacks,” Britain’s statement said.
The Foreign Office did not identify any group but said attacks could be “indiscriminate” and target “Kenyan institutions as well as places where expatriates and foreign travellers gather, such as hotels, shopping centres and beaches”.
“We strongly advise British nationals to exercise extra vigilance and caution in public places and at public events,” the statement added.
Kiraithe on Saturday said that despite a boost in security the threat remained and urged shopping malls to remain vigilant to prevent attacks.
“We don’t believe that Al Shabaab activities are totally neutralized,” Kiraithe told reporters on Saturday, but added that police had thwarted several recent attacks.
“We are denying those with wicked plans to operate freely,” Kiraithe said.
Kenya sent troops into Somalia to battle Al Shabaab rebels in October after several attacks, including the kidnapping of a French woman and a British tourist – and the killing of her husband – damaged its key tourism industry.
The Al Shabaab, who deny involvement in the coastal attacks, in turn vowed to attack Kenya.