US issues fresh travel advisory
Posted Monday, July 9 2012 at 23:30
The US government has ordered its staff to stay away from North Eastern Province.
The advisory comes days after Washington lifted a similar ban for Mombasa and Lamu in Coast Province. (READ: US lifts Mombasa travel advisory)
The US embassy in Nairobi on Monday said that a series of terror attacks in the region that borders war-torn Somalia, including twin attacks on churches in Garissa in which 17 people died on July 1, made North Eastern unsafe.
While the ban does not affect Americans who are not government employees, the embassy told them it would be risky to visit the area.
“As a result of recent events (attacks) and threats, US Government employees, contractors, grantees, and their dependants are prohibited from travelling to the province, including the cities of El-Wak, Wajir, Garissa, Dadaab, Mandera, and Liboi,” says the embassy dispatch sent to its citizens.
It added that government employees would also be restricted from travelling to some parts of the Coast like “north of Pate Island, including Kiwayu and north of Kiunga.”
The embassy noted that 17 terror attacks had occurred in Kenya since last year with nine of them happening in North Eastern.
The attacks, involving grenades and other explosives, have claimed 48 lives and left about 200 people injured.
The earlier advisory issued on June 23 warned “of an imminent threat of a terrorist attack” and put the US and Kenyan Government officials at loggerheads, with the latter demanding it be withdrawn.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Public Service head Francis Kimemia protested to the US, saying security had been beefed up but the embassy stayed put, maintaining it was in line with the State Department’s policy on the security of its citizens.
On Monday, the US dispatch further painted other parts of the country — including Moyale and Isiolo — as unsafe from time to time.
Americans were also told to be careful in Nairobi, with the embassy saying carjackings, home invasions and burglaries as well kidnappings “can occur at any time and in any location.”
On the General Election slated for March next year, Americans were told to keep off demonstrations and political rallies.
Meanwhile, a suspect arrested in connection with a grenade attack at a bar in Mishomoroni, Mombasa, was on Monday released by court. (READ: Court releases Mishomoroni terror suspect)
Mombasa principal magistrate S.K. Gacheru released Mr Athuman Salim Kassim after the prosecution said police had no evidence linking him to the attack.
Speaking to journalists after he was released, Mr Kassim maintained his innocence. “I was not involved at all. I was listening to music when the incident occurred,” he said.