US Embassy in Kenya issues terror alert

The US Embassy in Kenya has issued a terror alert in Nairobi, warning Americans to review their personal security plans.

In a statement published on its official website on Friday 13, 2023, the embassy said there are high risks of terrorism activities targeting areas frequented by foreigners and tourists in Nairobi and elsewhere in Kenya.

“Locations frequented by US citizens and other foreigners and tourists in Nairobi and elsewhere in Kenya continue to be attractive targets to terrorists planning to conduct potentially imminent attacks,” the embassy said.

As a precaution, the US Embassy asked citizens to be vigilant at locations frequented by tourists or foreigners and review their personal security plans.

Read: US warns of possible terror attack in Kenya

American nationals have also been urged to be aware of their surroundings, especially while in hotels, embassies, restaurants, malls and markets, schools, police stations, places of worship, and other places frequented by foreigners and tourists.

The embassy also shared phone numbers which the citizens may use to contact them when in need of any assistance.

The US Embassy also noted that the government of Kenya has heightened its counterterrorism patrols in response to the increased threat of terrorism.

There has been no major attack in Nairobi since the DusitD2 complex attack on January 15, 2019, which left 21 people dead and dozens other injured.

In January 2020, Al Shabaab attacked the Manda Bay airbase, a military facility in Lamu manned by Kenyan and American forces which left three Americans, a soldier and two US Department of Defence (DoD) contractors dead. Two other US service members and a third DoD contractor were injured.

Read: Al-Shabaab attacks challenge counter terrorism strategies

In February 2023, Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki revealed that the government forces disrupted many terror plots at source, neutralised or arrested dozens of suspected terrorists.

Kindiki further said a huge cache of weapons and explosives had been intercepted and destroyed.

“The current crackdown on Al-Shabaab terror cells in Somalia which is spearheaded by local community leaders with the support of the Federal Government of Somalia has tremendously weakened this militant group,” Kindiki said.

He also said the government has also stepped up border patrols and upped surveillance to thwart any attacks.

“The nearly 6,000 new police officers who have joined the National Police Service in the last 100 days guarantees us sustainability of the fight against crime. The new officers will be deployed to security hotspots across the Country immediately to further buttress the security of our people and their property,” Kindiki said.

The alert comes a day after police in the United Kingdom intercepted a KQ flight from Nairobi that was diverted from Heathrow to Stansted Airport in London.

Kenya Airways flight KQ100 was diverted to London Stansted Airport, the designated alternate airport for security incidents.

The reason for the diversion was said to be a potential security threat, with local press reporting that bomb squads were seen rushing to the scene.

Read: Another passenger dies aboard Kenya Airways flight

“We are currently attending an incident at #Stansted Airport. A flight from Nairobi to Heathrow has been diverted to Stansted this afternoon (October 12). The airport remains open,” Essex Police said on X.

In a statement, the national airline confirmed that its KQ100 flight from Nairobi to London Heathrow “received an alert of a potential security threat”.

“KQ management in conjunction with the security authorities of the government of Kenya and the United Kingdom carried out a thorough risk assessment of the threat. The crew onboard were briefed, and all safety and security precautions were taken to ensure the safety and security of our crew and passengers on board,” the KQ statement read in part.