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Terrorists targeting Kenya airports: police

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is Kenya's main hub. Photo./ FILE

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is Kenya’s main hub. Photo./ FILE

NAROBI, Kenya, Feb 29 – Police in Kenya were on a high alert Monday following intelligence reports of planned terror attacks on main airports in Nairobi and Mombasa.

An internal memo, in our possession, sent to all airport managers across the country warns that suicide bombers have been undergoing airborne suicide missions in Somalia for the planned attacks.

The memo dated February 26th is signed by the Kenya Airports Authority Security Manager Eric Kiraithe who said the attackers are likely to target domestic flights.

“Consequently, a team of 11 suicide bombers have undergone training within Somalia on airborne suicide missions in readiness for the attacks. Five operatives will target Jomo Kenyatta International Airport or Wilson Airport while the rest will focus on airports at the Coast region among them Moi International Airport,” part of the memo by Kiraithe states, adding “The planned attacks by Al Shabaab against Kenyan airports are likely to paralyze operations at the vital install installations with far reaching ramifications to national security.”

Kiraithe confirmed the authenticity of the memo but declined to offer more details.

The warning comes barely three weeks after a bomb attack on a passenger plane shortly after take-off from Somalia’s main airport, killing one person.

The blast punched a one-metre (three-foot) hole in the side of the Airbus A321 about 15 minutes after it had taken off from Mogadishu heading for Djibouti.

A passenger identified as Abdulahi Abdisalam was killed, probably after being propelled out of the aircraft in the explosion, investigators said.

Another two out of around 60 passengers on board were slightly injured.

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The pilot, a 64-year-old Serb named Vladimir Vodopivec, told a friend that he was convinced the blast had been caused by a bomb, according to the Serbian daily Blic.

The explosion did not damage the plane’s navigation system, and this is what enabled the pilot to make the emergency landing, the report said.

Video footage taken after the blast showed people having moved to the back of the plane with emergency oxygen masks dangling down as wind rushed around the main cabin, although most passengers appeared fairly calm.

Daallo Airlines operates out of Djibouti, flying to destinations in the Horn of Africa and the Gulf.

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