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Kenya enhances security at key installations amid terror threats

19 May 2014, 18:55

Nairobi - Local authorities have enhanced security in foreign embassies, UN and key installations around the country due to increased terror threats.

The police said on Monday that security has been enhanced at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) with passengers being subjected to through checks before they are allowed into the airport.

"We are not taking any chances. We have enhanced security in all airports and airstrips including foreign embassies around the country to ensure that all our visitors including Kenyans are safe, " a senior security officer told Xinhua by telephone.

JKIA which is East Africa's largest aviation hub was gutted by fire in August last year, disrupting air travel across the continent. No serious injuries were reported in the incident which also coincided with the 15th anniversary of the bombing of the U.S embassy in Nairobi.

The authorities said CCTV coverage has been expanded around the JKIA area and security checks on vehicles heading to the airports enhanced and thus facilitating proper manning of the offices to increase aviation security.

The move comes as UN office in Nairobi has introduced security measures, restricting visitor movements and closing petrol station due to rising terror threats.

The UN Office in Nairobi (UNON) Director General Sahle-Work Zewde said the new measures will see staffers work in shifts in the face of the prevailing security situation in Kenya.

"Unfortunately, Kenya has been a consistent target of terrorist groups over the last several months. The latest tragic attacks occurred on May 16 at the Gikomba Market," said Zewde in a circular sent to all staff in Nairobi.

She added the UN is not immune from these cowardly acts and they remain concerned about the safety of staff and their families. "Zawde informed the staff that the UN petrol station has been closed down and guided routes inside the UN complex suspended," she said, directing staff to seek alternative arrangements to fuel their official cars.

"Visitors will not be allowed and access will only be granted to those with a valid UN identification card, dully programmed for the pedestrian turnstiles within the UNON compound," the letter read.

According to Zawde, all deliveries to the UNON complex should be carried out after working hours, between 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p. m..

The deliveries should be announced before hand and the registration number and names of the driver provided to the Security and Safety Service in advance.

The director general said there would be restricted access to the UN Recreation Centre and the Commissary, with only staff being allowed in.

"These arrangements include staggered working hours, telecommuting and compressed work week. This will, inter allia, reduce the congestion along the UN Avenue," she said.

The draft measures came after Western countries issued travel advisories last week warning their citizens against visiting Kenya due to increased terror attacks in the East African nation.

A string of terror attacks in recent months has culminated with the mass evacuation of British tourists from Mombasa following two explosions that killed 10 and injured 76.

More than 100 people have been killed in these attacks and hundreds have been injured with half of these attacks occurring in northeastern Kenya, mainly in Dadaab, Wajir, Garissa, and Mandera counties.

Analysts had also warned that the warnings are a blow to Kenya's already troubled tourist industry which relies on foreign visitor, many of whom combine safaris with beach holidays in Mombasa.

Kenya relies heavily on the currency of foreigners that travel to see the wildlife and natural beauty of the land.

These attacks threaten the tourism business which the country so readily relies on, so by extension the economy is threatened too.

However, President Uhuru Kenyatta has vowed to continue with the anti-terror war and urged members of the public to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious to the authorities.

He said his government is planning to install closed circuit television cameras along the streets in the main cities to deter such attacks.

The country has been subjected to successive explosives attacks by Al-Shabaab operatives in the country following the onslaught by Kenyan soldiers on the Al-Shabaab in Somalia after the militia staged a series of attacks along the Kenyan coast.

The recent bus, church and market attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa incidents came amid heightened security in Nairobi after Somali insurgents threatened reprisal attacks in Kenya if her soldiers who launched cross border incursions in October last year do not leave the Horn of Africa nation.

- Xinhua


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