The U.S. Embassy in Kenya warned of a terrorist attack on a major hotel in the capital, Nairobi, although the exact hotel has not been identified.
In a security alert issued on Thursday, the embassy said, “terrorist groups may be planning an attack” on a target area “popular with tourists and business travelers”. The alert raised fears of a repeat of the January 2019 terrorist attack, when Islamist al-Shabab militants stormed the DusitD2 hotel and business complex and killed at least 21 people.
The United States urged its citizens to “exercise increased vigilance when visiting or staying in hotels in the Nairobi area.” The Kenyan police chief said they had stepped up police deployment in the city and border surveillance, but warned the public to be “extra vigilant”.
He tweeted a statement moments after the U.S. Embassy launched its alert:
The country has been a target of al-Shabab since October 2011, when it sent its army to Somalia to fight the jihadist group. On social networks, however, many Kenyans have criticized the laxity of their law enforcement agencies deployed in the capital Nairobi.
One Kenyan woman was shocked by the attitude of a policeman in these tense times who said on Twitter that some of your officers are very careless. “I approached one of them after seeing someone holding a gun around muthurwa ladhies road; he said (go stop him) seriously?”
Another user believes that the United States could have been equally effective in intelligence when the U.S. military base was attacked “and could not have known or taken action. But the same United States knows the plans of the Shabaab terrorists against Kenya inside Nairobi.”
Beyond the terrorism debate, Kenyans are finally asking themselves between al-Shabab and the coronavirus which one is the real threat at the moment.