U.S. Embassy in Kenya: Terrorists may target Westerners

The U.S. Embassy in Kenya has issued a warning that terrorist groups may target Westerners in the capital of Nairobi and other areas in the country.

People flee gunfire and explosions in Nairobi, Kenya, after an attack January 15. Photo by Dai Kurokawa/
People flee gunfire and explosions in Nairobi, Kenya, after an attack January 15. Photo by Dai Kurokawa/

The warning was issued Monday, weeks after a Jan. 15 attack at an upscale hotel and office complex by a suicide bomber in Nairobi, killing 15 people.
The terrorist group Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, which happened the day after a Kenya court ruled three suspected organizers of the deadly 2013 Westgate Mall attack should stand trial.

“Credible information indicates Westerners may be targeted by extremists in Nairobi, Naivasha, Nanyuki, and coastal areas of Kenya,” the security message from the embassy said. “The U.S. Embassy reminds the public of the continued need for heightened vigilance throughout Kenya, especially in public spaces such as shopping malls, hotels, and places of worship.”
The message urged Americans to watch their surroundings, report suspicious activity and carefully consider visiting locations frequented by tourists.

“We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Nairobi enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program,” the embassy said. “STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.”

Monica Juma, Kenya’s foreign ministry cabinet secretary, said the Jan. 15 attack was a message from militants to visitors.
“While this attack on the Dusit Complex was on the Kenyan territory, it was targeted at the world,” Juma said. “The complex hosts a range international establishments and interests.

“The attack is a clear reminder that the terrorists’ objective is to change the way of life of other societies is alive. It is a reminder that no country is immune to international terrorism.”

ByClyde Hughes