Friday, September 21, 2012
Kenyan security officials have asked citizens to be on alert for possible terrorist attacks after the al-Shabaab-affiliated Muslim Youth Centre (MYC) vowed to retaliate when allied forces liberated Kismayo.
"The time of public warnings via Twitter or other social media is now a thing of the past," MYC said in a press statement. "MYC in Kenya and our mujahideen brothers in the region are preparing for any eventualities that may transpire in Kismayo, and with the grace of Allah respond accordingly and decisively."
"The die seems to have been cast by Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and now the unbelievers must be accountable for their intended actions," MYC said.
Deputy Police Spokesman Charles Owino said citizens need to be more vigilant, especially as AMISOM forces positions themselves for the battle for Kismayo.
He told Sabahi that while the MYC threats could be a ploy to instil fear, the community should look out for possible terrorist attacks.
"At the moment, we cannot say there are specific targets the militants are eyeing. The terrorists have proved to be indiscriminate by targeting civilians," Owino said.
He said the seizure of a cache of weapons and arrest of two suspects in Nairobi's Eastleigh neighbourhood on September 14th was partly because of the community's co-operation. "That is the level of alertness and co-operation we are asking the residents to maintain."
In addition, Owino said residents should be wary of new tactics the militants may use to execute terrorists acts.
He particularly asked porters at bus terminals to be cautious of people who may be posing as travellers, but are instead carrying weapons or strapped with explosives.
"It is very common for porters to compete for travellers at the bus terminals by grabbing the luggage into the public passenger vehicles they work for," he said. "They could easily be used to carry luggage packed with explosives, especially in Nairobi's Machakos bus terminal, which is the biggest in the country and has a high population at any given time."
Increased security measures on buses
Ann Juma, a booking clerk at Easy Coach Travellers, which operates public passenger vehicles between Nairobi and western Kenya, told Sabahi they are screening luggage with metal detectors and have updated the closed-circuit cameras at their offices in Nairobi central district.
"The safety of our passengers is now crucial and the company has beefed up security at the booking offices. Those getting on buses at any given time are thoroughly screened for everyone's safety," she said.
"We have also strengthened orderly booking and enforced a ban on people who claim to preach inside the buses and hawkers who sale their wares inside the bus," she said. "Basically, we are discouraging crowds around our vehicles and booking offices."
Western Provincial Commissioner James ole Seriani told Sabahi that MYC has been posting speeches, lectures and sermons of radicals to lift the spirits of its demoralised forces.
For instance, in a September 19th posting, the group provides a YouTube link to a video portraying the life and times of the Arab commander Ali Khattab from his childhood through wars in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Chechnya and Dagestan.
Seriani said MYC resorts to posting statements and tweets of radicals because it is desperate.
"While the threats should not in anyway prevent the people from their daily routine, highest vigilance is needed," he said.