Kenya increases security measures after militants issue threats

By Bosire Boniface in Wajir

September 21, 2012

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Kenyan security officials have asked citizens to be on alert for possible terrorist attacks after the al-Shabaab-affiliated Muslim Youth Centre (MYC) vowed to retaliate when allied forces liberated Kismayo.

  • Kenyan police patrol the streets of Mombasa at the end of August. Following recent militant threats, security forces are on high alert. [Simon Maina/AFP]

    Kenyan police patrol the streets of Mombasa at the end of August. Following recent militant threats, security forces are on high alert. [Simon Maina/AFP]

  • An AMISOM soldier checks equipment on an armoured vehicle. As AMISOM forces tighten the noose on al-Shabaab, the Muslim Youth Centre, a group affiliated with al-Shabaab, has threatened to retaliate. [Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP]

    An AMISOM soldier checks equipment on an armoured vehicle. As AMISOM forces tighten the noose on al-Shabaab, the Muslim Youth Centre, a group affiliated with al-Shabaab, has threatened to retaliate. [Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP]

"The time of public warnings via Twitter or other social media is now a thing of the past," MYC said in a press statement. "MYC in Kenya and our mujahideen brothers in the region are preparing for any eventualities that may transpire in Kismayo, and with the grace of Allah respond accordingly and decisively."

"The die seems to have been cast by Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and now the unbelievers must be accountable for their intended actions," MYC said.

Deputy Police Spokesman Charles Owino said citizens need to be more vigilant, especially as AMISOM forces positions themselves for the battle for Kismayo.

He told Sabahi that while the MYC threats could be a ploy to instil fear, the community should look out for possible terrorist attacks.

"At the moment, we cannot say there are specific targets the militants are eyeing. The terrorists have proved to be indiscriminate by targeting civilians," Owino said.

He said the seizure of a cache of weapons and arrest of two suspects in Nairobi's Eastleigh neighbourhood on September 14th was partly because of the community's co-operation. "That is the level of alertness and co-operation we are asking the residents to maintain."

In addition, Owino said residents should be wary of new tactics the militants may use to execute terrorists acts.

He particularly asked porters at bus terminals to be cautious of people who may be posing as travellers, but are instead carrying weapons or strapped with explosives.

"It is very common for porters to compete for travellers at the bus terminals by grabbing the luggage into the public passenger vehicles they work for," he said. "They could easily be used to carry luggage packed with explosives, especially in Nairobi's Machakos bus terminal, which is the biggest in the country and has a high population at any given time."

Increased security measures on buses

Ann Juma, a booking clerk at Easy Coach Travellers, which operates public passenger vehicles between Nairobi and western Kenya, told Sabahi they are screening luggage with metal detectors and have updated the closed-circuit cameras at their offices in Nairobi central district.

"The safety of our passengers is now crucial and the company has beefed up security at the booking offices. Those getting on buses at any given time are thoroughly screened for everyone's safety," she said.

"We have also strengthened orderly booking and enforced a ban on people who claim to preach inside the buses and hawkers who sale their wares inside the bus," she said. "Basically, we are discouraging crowds around our vehicles and booking offices."

Western Provincial Commissioner James ole Seriani told Sabahi that MYC has been posting speeches, lectures and sermons of radicals to lift the spirits of its demoralised forces.

For instance, in a September 19th posting, the group provides a YouTube link to a video portraying the life and times of the Arab commander Ali Khattab from his childhood through wars in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Chechnya and Dagestan.

Seriani said MYC resorts to posting statements and tweets of radicals because it is desperate.

"While the threats should not in anyway prevent the people from their daily routine, highest vigilance is needed," he said.

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Reader's Comments

  • Kiptoo Tarus
    September 29, 2012 @ 10:39:31AM

    alshabab should be stopped under all circumstances. Africa should be free of pirates.

  • granduft
    September 27, 2012 @ 12:34:36AM

    You are the evil one saleh

  • JOJO
    September 25, 2012 @ 09:58:38AM

    Muslims are not to blame but Islam, because if a spiritual belief can make someone so convinced enough to kill ,kill and kill until they kill themselves! Pardon me to ask does Islam sanction self destruction or suicide? I have never understood that bit! I thot a matyr was the one being killed for their faith or belief, this was is the other way round, help me here! you need to sit back and think again. Islam is no longer attractive to me, You can be sure of that, how do you explain all over the world the amount of blood being shed for this religion!! Its sad! so sad! almost wicked like devil worshippers who drink blood without end. To say the least I am APPALED!

  • [email protected]
    September 24, 2012 @ 02:10:47PM

    The Kenyan government is right in confronting all sorts of violence and terrorism. The government should tighten security measures across Kenya, so that ordinary civilians are not subjected to Al Shabab's hostile acts against the Kenyan people.

  • Saleh B
    September 23, 2012 @ 04:31:25PM

    People, get this right! Not all muslims are bad. infact the morally and straight thinking muslim brother or sister is the most honest and loving human being you could ever come across. I know because in East Africa, we have mixed marriages, we attend schools together, we are tenants to one another, christian and muslim children play together. Sisi ni mashemeji all the way to Dar es salam and Kampala and beyond in the region. Now that MYC (which is a small band of misfit muslims) that is not representative of the entire muslim community has openly declared their stand, I think its time to act on them. The time to act is now since they are known and their locations are known. Lets not wait for people to die from the rotten acts of these demanted roaches then we act. No! Our police should pull the plug on them now! Now is the time because they are small and can be contained before they reach the epic portions of boko haram. Time to act is NOW! What other evidence do we need? Any sympathizer who demonstarates after they are dealt with will also be dealt with.

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