Skip to main content

Vacationers evacuated from Kenya after warnings of 'high threat' of terrorism

By Faith Karimi and Lindsay Isaac, CNN
May 16, 2014 -- Updated 1408 GMT (2208 HKT)
British tourists queue to prepare to leave the international airport in Mombasa, Kenya on May 15, 2014.
British tourists queue to prepare to leave the international airport in Mombasa, Kenya on May 15, 2014.
  • NEW: About 200 people evacuated so far
  • Thomson Airways says it's canceling trips to Mombasa until the end of October
  • The evacuation comes after U.S., Australia, UK issue travel alerts
  • Kenyan authorities describe the warnings as "unfriendly acts"

(CNN) -- Tour companies evacuated hundreds of vacationers from Kenya after various nations issued travel alerts that warned of a "high threat" of terrorist attacks.

All-inclusive tour company First Choice and Thomson Airways said they were canceling trips to the coastal area of Mombasa until the end of October.

They transported about 200 vacationers to London on Friday morning. By the end of evacuations Friday night, both said they expect all their 400 vacationers to be out.

"As a precautionary measure, we have also taken the decision to repatriate all customers currently on holiday in Kenya, including our air fare passengers back to the UK on Thursday and Friday," Thomson said in a statement.

The coastal region of Kenya is popular among tourists from all over the world.
The coastal region of Kenya is popular among tourists from all over the world.

A day before the evacuations, the UK Foreign Office advised against nonessential travel to various areas, including the Mombasa coastal region. It urged tourists with nonessential travel to leave.

"There is a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping ... from extremists linked to Al-Shabaab, a militant group that has carried out attacks in response to Kenya's military intervention in Somalia," the UK alert said.

The United States also updated its travel warning this week, citing the potential for terrorist attacks in Nairobi and the coastal cities of Mombasa and Diani. Australia also urged its nationals to reconsider travel to those areas.

Kenyan authorities described the warnings as "unfriendly acts" and said security remains a top priority.

"Issuance of such travel advisories only plays to ... spread fear and panic," the Kenyan Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The Kenyan military crossed into Somalia in 2011 to battle the terrorist group Al-Shabaab, which it blamed for kidnapping tourists in the coastal region. In retaliation, the terrorist group has launched a spate of attacks, including targeting bustling bus stations with grenades.

Last year, militants stormed the Westgate Mall in Nairobi and held shoppers under siege for days. At least 67 people were killed.

There are about 5,000 British nationals living along the Kenyan coast, according to the Foreign Office.

About 10% of those are in Mombasa and surrounding areas.

Part of complete coverage on
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0102 GMT (0902 HKT)
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0333 GMT (1133 HKT)
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1312 GMT (2112 HKT)
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0959 GMT (1759 HKT)
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
With so many new attractions on the way, the next few years are going to be a roller coaster ride.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
Thomas Malthus famously predicted that rising populations would create a food crunch: Could this be true?
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0945 GMT (1745 HKT)
The lives of everyone close to Oscar Pistorius and the girl he killed are changed forever, his siblings say.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1402 GMT (2202 HKT)
Gene Simmons reflects on 40 years of KISS, and how even rock royalty needs sound business principles.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1033 GMT (1833 HKT)
From "Sick Man of Europe" to the world's fourth largest economy.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0915 GMT (1715 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.