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US warns of terror attack in Kenya after Al-Shabaab leader killed in Somalia

By Abuga Makori in Nairobi , Garowe Online

NAIROBI, Kenya - The US has issued a major security alert that could drastically affect Kenya's economy, earmarking a top tourist hotel as the terrorists' target.

In a brief statement posted by the US embassy in Nairobi on Thursday, Washington, without naming the hotel in question, further termed it as "travelers favorite".

Nairobi, the economic hub of East and Central Africa, is synonymous with terror attacks with the last coming in January 2019 at Dusit D2 Hotel, which left 21 people dead.

"Terrorist groups may be plotting an attack against a major hotel in Nairobi," read the statement. "The exact hotel has not been identified, but it is believed to be a hotel popular with tourists and business travelers."

Besides the Dusit D2 Hotel raid, Westgate mall, a major business center in the suburbs of Westlands, was also attacked in 2013.

In both major raids at the capital, Nairobi, Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militants took responsibility, terming them "win against non-believers".

But the US, which is a major global target for terrorists, seized Thursday's opportunity to rally for vigilance among American citizens in Kenya.

"If staying at a hotel, be aware of the hotel’s evacuation plan. Plan ahead of time how you would exit the hotel in case of an emergency," it said.

To ensure awareness, the US asked its citizens to, Review your personal security plans, be aware of your surroundings and monitor local media for updates.

In 1998, Al-Qaida militants waged a terror attack against the US embassy in Nairobi, killing 214 people. Slain Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden took responsibility.

And the US now says: "Security alerts to US citizens provide timely information so they can make informed travel decisions."

Hillary Mutyambai, Kenya's Inspector General of Police, was quick to assure citizens improved security, adding that security forces are vigilant.

In a statement, Mr. Mutyambai insisted that citizens also have a role to play in mitigating possible attacks, through the sharing of intelligence briefs.

"The NPS has increased border surveillance to ensure criminal elements are cut from entering the country," said the police boss.

The warning comes barely after US military airstrike killed a top Al-Shabaab commander in Saakow, Middle Juba, who perished alongside his wife.

Although AFRICOM is yet to release the name of the operative, he's believed to be the mastermind of the Manda Bay attack, which left three Americans dead.

Most likely, the security alert will reduce the influx of tourists to Kenya, who are key in Kenya's foreign exchange earner, accounting for 3 percent of GDP.


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