Kenya’s government criticized a U.S. warning to travelers about the risk of visiting the East African country after Islamist militants attacked an upscale shopping mall in the capital, Nairobi.
The U.S. State Department on Sept. 28 reissued a July 5 advisory in which it urged U.S. citizens to evaluate their personal security situation amid “heightened threats from terrorism.” U.S. Embassy personnel have been prohibited from going to areas near the Somali border in the northeast and coastal areas and travelers should take these restrictions into account when planning a trip, it said.
The advisory is “unnecessary and unfriendly,” Interior Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku said in a statement e-mailed by the presidency. “Issuing travel advisories is counter-productive in the fight against global terrorism.”
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta last week urged foreign countries not to issue travel warnings after as many as 15 al-Qaeda-linked gunmen stormed the Westgate Mall and killed at least 67 people. Al-Shabaab, a militia that’s been fighting to establish an Islamic state in Somalia since at least 2006, claimed responsibility for the Sept. 21 attack. The group warned of more bloodshed unless Kenya withdraws its forces from southern Somalia, where they have liberated territory previously controlled by the fighters.
Kenyan forensic workers, assisted by teams from countries including the U.S., Israel and Germany, are continuing to probe the scene of the four-day attack. The identities of people suspected of being involved in the raid will be named once the investigation is complete, Ole Lenku said.
The number of people in custody rose to nine yesterday after an additional suspect was arrested, he said. Three others were released after questioning, Ole Lenku said.
Police also recovered a vehicle containing an “assortment of illegal weapons” and recorded statements from 156 witnesses, he said. The government has yet to receive any reports of missing persons, he said, after the Kenya Red Cross said at least 71 people are unaccounted for.
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