Britain warns of terror threats in Kenya

UK warns of terror threats in Kenya
UK warns of terror threats in Kenya

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    UK warns of terror threats in Kenya

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UK warns of terror threats in Kenya 01:39

Story highlights

  • Britain acknowledges Kenyan authorities want to talk to its citizens, an official says
  • "We believe that terrorists may be in the final stages of planning attacks," Britain says
  • It says the attacks may target places where expatriates gather
  • Kenyan police, by contrast, say, "We don't believe an attack is imminent"
British officials Saturday warned of terror threats in Kenya as the east African nation battles Islamist militants in neighboring Somalia.
"Kenyan authorities have alerted the public to a heightened threat from terrorist attacks in Nairobi. We believe that terrorists may be in the final stages of planning attacks," the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement.
It said the attacks may target places where expatriates gather such as hotels, shopping centers and beaches.
A Kenyan government spokesman said the threats are not new.
"This threat has been ongoing for maybe the last two weeks, and because of the holiday season we want to make sure people are extra aware. We suspect that Al-Shabaab may be planning to carry out an attack," Alfred Mutua said.
A spokesman for the Kenyan police, Eric Kiraithe, also downplayed the threat. "We don't believe that we are under any more threat of a terror attack than London for example," he told CNN from Nairobi.
"We believe that there are certain elements of this terrorist organization (Al-Shabaab) here in Nairobi, and we are taking all precautionary measures. People in hotels and shopping should take extra caution.
"But we have so much intelligence on the ground, all over the country, that we don't believe an attack is imminent. We are relatively safe, nobody should cancel their holiday. The caution is just a precautionary measure."
The UK statement did not offer details on who might carry out the attacks, but urged British nationals to be vigilant in public places.
Kiraithe also confirmed that arrest warrants have been issued for two people wanted in connection with police investigations into Al-Shabaab activities.
One is a British national named Natalie Faye Webb, he said. "She could be an accomplice or simply have information, but it would be in the public interest if she was taken in by police."
The second suspect -- who according to Kenyan station Capital FM is a dual British and Kenyan citizen called Habib Saleh Ghani, also known as Abu Usama Al-Pakistani -- also now has an arrest warrant out for him, Kiraithe said.
He also confirmed Kenyan media reports that police last week issued the photographs of 15 people suspected of having information regarding Al-Shabaab's activities.
A spokesperson for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office -- who was not named, per government policy -- acknowledged Kenyan authorities want to talk with some of its citizens.
"We are aware that the Kenyan authorities are interested in speaking to British nationals in relation to possible links to Al-Shabaab," the spokesperson said Saturday.
U.S. Embassy officials in Kenya issued their own terror alert in October and November, saying they have credible information of an imminent terror attack.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy in Nairobi said Saturday that it had not changed its travel advice, which urges U.S. citizens already in Kenya and those thinking of traveling 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."
Two grenade attacks in Nairobi in October, one on a night club and another at a crowded bus stop, left one Kenyan dead and 30 injured, the State Department's website on Kenya says.
"Our travel warning is up to date and stands as it is," embassy spokeswoman Katya Thomas told CNN.
The U.S. warning came after Kenya sent troops across the border into Somalia to pursue Islamist Al-Shabaab militants. The terror group has threatened Kenya with retaliatory attacks, saying it considers the forces' incursion an affront to Somalia's sovereignty.
Kenya blamed abductions of tourists and aid workers last year on the terror group.