Kenya beefs up security after warnings of possible attacks

Police operations come after several European embassies warned of risk of possible attacks.

A member of the anti-terror police unit keeps guard at the Milimani Law Courts before the arrival of suspects charged with helping al-Qaeda launch an attack on the Westgate Mall, in Nairobi, Kenya
Security was boosted outside key government offices, five-star hotels, private buildings and shopping centres [File: Thomas Mukoya/Reuters]

Police in Kenya say they have beefed up security after several European countries warned of the risk of possible attacks and urged their nationals to avoid public places.

Heavily armed officers were seen on Friday patrolling the streets of the capital, Nairobi, as security was boosted outside key government offices, five-star hotels, private buildings and shopping centres.

The National Police Service said in a statement it “assures the public that security in the country has been scaled up through different policing operations”.

“We urge the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities,” the statement added.

The French embassy on Thursday issued a message to its nationals warning of the danger of an attack in Nairobi in the coming days. It said on its website there was a “real risk” of places frequented by foreigners, such as restaurants, hotels and shopping centres, being targeted.

“Therefore, people in Kenya are advised to be extremely vigilant and avoid these public places in the coming days, including this weekend,” it said.

The German embassy in Nairobi issued a similar warning, while the Dutch mission said it had been informed by the French of the possible threat and that it considered the information “credible”.

Kenya has been hit by several attacks waged by the al-Shabab armed group in retaliation for sending troops into Somalia in 2011 as part of an African Union forces to beat back the fighters.

In 2019, al-Shabab attackers killed 21 people in an attack on the upscale DusitD2 hotel and office complex in Nairobi.

In 2015, an attack on Garissa University in eastern Kenya killed 148 people, almost all of them students. Many were shot point-blank after being identified as Christians.

It was the second bloodiest attack in Kenya’s history, surpassed only by al-Qaeda’s bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi in 1998 that killed 213 people.

In 2013, a bloody four-day siege at Nairobi’s Westgate shopping centre killed 67 people.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies