US warns citizens against Kenya travel despite Obama’s July visit

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AS Kenya prepares to host US President Barack Obama in July, the American government believes the country is still not a safe destination for its citizens.

Last Wednesday, the US State Department updated its ‘Kenya Travel Warning’, replacing the last one issued on June 19, 2014.

The update came just a week after a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry and former American President Bill Clinton.

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Obama is scheduled to travel to Kenya in July for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit and bilateral talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Uhuru has been asking the Western governments to revise and remove the travel restrictions as they are hurting the economy.

“US citizens in Kenya, and those considering to travel to Kenya, should be aware of continuing and recently heightened threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime in some areas. This replaces the Travel Warning of June 19, 2014, to update information about the current security situation,” the May 13 update states.

It went on to say although thousands of American citizens visit Kenya each year without incident, caution and keen awareness of one’s personal security situation is vitally important.

The US government said it continues to receive information about potential terrorist threats aimed at US, Western, and Kenyan interests in Kenya, including in Nairobi, along the Coast, and the Northeastern region.

“Terrorist acts can include suicide operations, bombings – to include car bombings – kidnappings, attacks on civil aviation, and attacks on maritime vessels in or near Kenyan ports,” the advisory says.

The US said al Shabaab activities are still likely in Northeastern Kenya, mainly in Wajir, Garissa, and Mandera counties.

“The most deadly of these took place on April 2 at the Garissa University College, where al Shabaab terrorists killed 148 people, primarily students, and wounded many others,” the US said.

The warning indicated that Kenyan security forces have disrupted several other terrorist plots throughout the country, which may have prevented additional deaths and injury from terrorist attacks.

“Although the pursuit of those responsible for previous terrorist activities continues, some of those involved remain at large and still operate in the region,” the warning said.

As a result, US government personnel have been restricted from travelling to Eastleigh, all coastal counties – Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu – and the coastal portion only of Tana River county.

-the-star.co.ke

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