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Kenyan Police Arrest at Least 36 Following Terror Alert
VOA News
21 Jun 2003, 17:54 UTC

Kenyan police say they have arrested dozens of people during an anti-terror sweep, one day after the United States warned of a serious terrorist threat in the east African nation.

Police say they had arrested at least 36 people by the end of today (Saturday) in the Eastleigh district of the capital, Nairobi. The area is inhabited mostly by Kenyan Somalis who the government has repeatedly blamed for rising crime.

Authorities said Saturday, they also stopped all flights to and from Somalia because of the heightened security alert. The security concerns have also forced the closure of the United States embassy in Nairobi. In a statement Saturday, the embassy said it would remain shut for least Monday and Tuesday of next week and possibly longer. The embassy said the closure is due to what it describes as new and concrete information about terrorist activity in Kenya.

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency issued a warning for Kenya on Friday, saying there is specific information about a specific target. It gave no other details.

Even before the latest warning, U.S. officials had listed Kenya in the highest category of terrorism risk estimates, in part because al-Qaida operatives are believed to be active in the country. Kenya has not yet arrested anyone in connection with an attack last November that killed 18 people at an Israeli-owned hotel in the Indian Ocean resort of Mombasa. Last month, British Airways canceled all flights to Kenya due to terrorism concerns, and American embassy employees in Nairobi were offered the option of leaving their posts. Cutbacks in Kenya's tourism income have begun to affect the nation's economy.

In 1998, simultaneous terrorist bomb attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killed more than 200 people. Another five-thousand were wounded by the blast in Nairobi; most of those victims were Kenyan.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.



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