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Kenya boosts security after France and Germany warn of terror attacks risk

Kenya said Friday it has boosted security after France and Germany warned of the risk of possible terror attacks targeting Westerners, particularly in the capital Nairobi.

Heavily armed police officers were patrolling the streets of Nairobi and security was boosted outside key government offices, five-star hotels, private buildings and shopping malls.

“Regarding the terror alert from France, we assure the public that security of Kenyans including critical infrastructure is beefed up around the country especially cities,” national police spokesman Bruno Shioso said.

“We urge Kenyans to remain calm and also share any information on suspicious activities with the police.” 

The French embassy issued a message to its nationals warning of the risk 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 deadly attacks waged by Al-Shabaab fighters in retaliation for Nairobi sending troops into Somalia in 2011 as part of an African Union force to oust the jihadists.

In 2019, Al-Shabaab gunmen killed 21 people at an upscale hotel complex in Nairobi and in 2013, a bloody four-day siege at the Westgate shopping mall claimed the lives of 67 people.

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.

Kenya is a major contributor of troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which in 2011 drove Al-Shabaab out of Mogadishu and other urban strongholds after a months-long offensive. But the Al-Qaeda-linked group continues to carry out deadly attacks in the Somali capital and other areas of the country.