As the terrorist attack on a hotel and business complex continues in the Riverside area of Nairobi, the British High Commission in the Kenyan capital is closed for routine business “while we respond to the incident,” according to the Foreign Office.
A British citizen is known to be among the 15 people killed in the DusitD2 Hotel. The al-Shabaab Islamist group claimed its fighters were responsible.
The DusitD2 Hotel’s website describes it as: “Cocooned away from the hustle and bustle in a secure and peaceful haven .”
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The updated Foreign Office travel advice states: “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Kenya.” Specifically, it warns of “a heightened threat of terrorist attacks in Nairobi and the coast and resort areas of Mombasa and Malindi, and northern border counties”.
The Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to a large swathe in the east of the country, including everywhere within 60km of the Somali border.
Canada’s government specifies a much bigger no-go zone, extending 150km from the Kenya-Somalia border, extending to an area within 100km of the borders with South Sudan and Ethiopia “due to armed banditry and cross-border violence”.
The government in Ottawa says: “Groups based in Somalia and northeastern Kenya have targeted humanitarian workers, tourists and residents in the past and deaths have occurred.”
The current UK travel advice specifies that “places frequented by foreigners” are potential targets, including hotels, bars, restaurants, nightclubs, sporting events, shopping centres, beaches, buses, trains, airports and other transport hubs.
“Places of worship including churches and mosques have also been targeted,” says the Foreign Office. “Be particularly vigilant in these areas.”
The US State Department warns American citizens: “Terrorist acts could include armed assaults, suicide operations, bomb/grenade attacks, and kidnappings.”
It also advises against visiting the Nairobi neighbourhood of Eastleigh and Mombasa’s Old Town, for reasons of crime rather than terrorism. The latest warning says: “Violent crime, such as armed carjacking, mugging, home invasion, and kidnapping, can occur at any time. Street crime can involve multiple armed assailants.”
The American Embassy in Nairobi was bombed in a terrorist attack in 1998 with the loss of more than 200 lives.