US evacuates Kenya embassy staff after attacks
20 June 2014, 22:04
Washington - The United States said Friday it was evacuating some of its Kenyan embassy staff due to security risks in the wake of attacks by Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab militants that left dozens dead.
Travel restrictions have been put into place for government personnel and "based on the recent changes in Kenya's security situation, the embassy is also relocating some staff to other countries," the State Department said.
However, despite the evacuations, the Nairobi-based embassy would "remain open for normal operations," it said.
The State Department warned US citizens of the risks of traveling to the African country, also urging those already there to "evaluate their personal security situation in light of continuing and recently heightened threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime in some areas."
"The US government continues to receive information about potential terrorist threats aimed at US, Western, and Kenyan interests in Kenya," it said.
"Although the pursuit of those responsible for previous terrorist activities continues, many of those involved remain at large and still operate in the region."
Gunmen late Sunday raided the coastal town of Mpeketoni -- situated near the tourist island of Lamu -- and massacred close to 50 people.
The attack came as some people in the town were watching a World Cup match in local cafes and hotels.
Nine more people were killed in an attack the following night in a nearby village.
The attacks were claimed by Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab, although Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has blamed the carnage on "local political networks" and an "opportunist network of other criminal gangs."
On Thursday, Kenyan security forces killed five people suspected of involvement in the attacks.
In light of the bloodshed, the Kenyan government has urged football fans to watch World Cup matches at home rather than in public places.