Terror attacks make Kenyans cautious, suspicious
NAIROBI, May 10 (Xinhua) — Kenyans have become extremely cautious and suspicious as they go about their businesses to curb terror attacks.
Citizens of the East African nation are no longer taking any chances as incidents of terror attacks rise.
They are cautious in public transport vehicles (matatus), in the streets, shopping malls, at residential places, in eateries and even churches.
While in the places, anything or anyone suspicious is quickly pointed out and security officers are alerted.
Terrorists have brought a totally new world to Kenyans, many who have been carefree while going about their business in public places for many years.
They never cared about who is their neighbor, what one was carrying while entering a public transport vehicle and no one would bother about any luggage left unattended in public places, save for thieves.
In the capital Nairobi, which has experienced systematic grenade and improvised explosive devices attacks in matatus, churches and entertainment spots, Kenyans are as watchful as hawks.
The third eye has made security agencies detonate various suspicious bags left in public places in the last one week.
One of the incidents happened along Moi Avenue at a building that hosts a branch of popular retail outlet Nakumatt.
A small bag left unattended near the supermarket caused a terror scare as security officers were alerted, with many suspecting that it contained explosives.
Bomb experts from Kenya police were called in and detonated the bag, which was later found to contain a bible, a German dictionary, a pen and a key.
Kenyans applauded the police as they exploded the bag in the incident that happened two days after terrorists planted explosive devices in two buses in the capital killing at least three people and injuring over 50 others.
And as in Nairobi, unattended bags in the lakeside city of Kisumu and tourist bedrock Mombasa caused scares as residents suspected they contained improvised explosives.
Once alerted by the public, police swiftly arrived at the scenes in the towns, secured them and later detonated the bags.
However, while the bomb scares turned out to be false, police have thanked the public for being watchful.
“We thank the public for being dedicated to their safety. What we have seen is a sign that people are alert and care about their security and this country. We encourage this to continue if we are to eliminate terrorism,” Kisumu police boss Musa Kongoli said.
The zeal to enhance safety is more pronounced in public transport vehicles, which have bore the brunt of terror attacks since members of the Al-Shabaab terror network started to target Kenyans in 2011.
The matatu was travelling from Kayole, on the east of Nairobi, to Eastleigh, christened small Mogadishu, where police are carrying out an operation to flush out illegal Somali immigrants.
The immigrants are suspected to be among those perpetuating terrorist attacks in the East African nation. A woman in the minibus saw a suspicious bag under her seat and she raised alarm.
“It was a good thing. The only bad thing she did was to scream that it was a bomb, leading to a near stampede in the moving vehicle,” grocery operator Andrew Oyongo, who was travelling in the vehicle, narrated on Friday.
The driver later stopped the car and the frightened passengers stepped out. However, when the small bag was removed from the vehicle, it was found to contain clothes.
“The owner of the bag, who had alighted and forgotten it in the vehicle caught up with us as he was following the matatu on a motorbike. He apologized for the scare,” said Oyongo.
However, according to Oyongo, some passengers were too scared to continue with the journey. They refused to board the vehicle, terminating their journeys at the spot near Mathare slum.
In supermarkets, shopping malls and in the streets, things are not any different. Anyone carrying a luggage that looks suspicious, particularly young men, is stopped and asked to open it.
Some of those doing the work are plain clothes security officers sniffing around for any trouble. However, as citizens intensify security, most of those who are being suspected are Somalis.
Members of the community, especially young men, are being looked at suspiciously by other citizens. Instances of commuters stepping out of vehicles once a Somali enters are rising, with many suspecting them of being terrorists.
The ethnic profiling has been worsened by the police operation going on in Eastleigh to flush out terrorists and illegal immigrants.
To many Kenyans, any member of the Somali community is a potential terrorist. However, those charged by the crime so far in the East African nation have been radicalized non-Somalis.