US embassy urges vigilance as extremists target westerners in Kenya

February 4, 2019 3:51 pm
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the embassy urged its citizens particularly in Nairobi, Naivasha, Nanyuki, and the coastal region to exercise heightened caution especially in public spaces such as malls, hotels and places of worship/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 4 – The United States embassy in Nairobi is urging heightened vigilance throughout the country as intelligence reports indicate extremist groups could be targeting westerners in the country.

In an alert published on Monday, the embassy urged its citizens particularly in Nairobi, Naivasha, Nanyuki, and the coastal region to exercise heightened caution especially in public spaces such as malls, hotels and places of worship.

“We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Nairobi enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP),” the advisory form the embassy read in part.

The caution came barely a month after the 14 Riverside Drive terrorist attack in Nairobi that left 21 dead, including a US citizen and a Briton. Over 700 hostages were rescued and five assailants neutralized.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in the aftermath of the January 15 attack that the dusitD2 hotel and surrounding office complexes were targeted because they hosted a number of global establishments and international interests.

“While this attack on the Dusit Complex was on the Kenyan territory, it was targeted at the world. The complex hosts a range international establishments and interests,” Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma told foreign envoys based in Nairobi on January 18.

“The attack is a clear reminder that the terrorists’ objective is to change the way of life of other societies is alive. It is a reminder that no country is immune to international terrorism,” the CS told the diplomatic corps.

Somali-based extremist group Al-Shabaab that claimed responsibility over the attack had said in a statement aired on its radio arm, Adalus, it carried out the attack in response to a decision by United States President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The terrorist group said in the statement of Wednesday the economic interests of the US and Israel suffer as long as the Trump administration continued with policies it termed as detrimental to Palestinians.

Al-Shabaab said the attack on 14 Riverside Drive was executed with instructions from al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. The Somali-based terrorist group bares allegiance to Al-Qaida.

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