Kenyans warned to watch World Cup from home to avoid terror

Don’t watch the World Cup at bars, restaurants or large parties, the Kenyan government warned its citizens on Friday. Instead, officials suggested, watch the tournament “from the comfort of” home.

The warning to avoid crowds and “be cautious and vigilant” during screenings of World Cup matches comes during a heightened threat of terrorism in Kenya. 

Al-Shabab militants from Somalia four years ago bombed two World Cup viewing locations in neighboring Kampala, Uganda, killing more than 70 people.

Kenya has seen a wave of terror attacks over the last six months, and experts have warned that attacks could take place against World Cup crowds.

Kenya’s Interior Ministry said its citizens shouldn’t watch matches at “unprotected open places.”

“Although the government has beefed up security in all parts of the country, bars and restaurant owners are at the same time notified to maintain a high sense of security and vigilance in their premises,” the government said in a press release.

The warning comes five days after gunmen slaughtered some 50 people in a coastal Kenyan town while World Cup matches were playing on TV. On Wednesday a bomb exploded at a World Cup viewing site in northeastern Nigeria, killing 14 people.

The US State Department on Friday issued a new warning about the risks of travel to Kenya because of terrorism and high crime. It said that due to recent changes in Kenya’s security situation, the embassy is relocating some staff to other countries. The US Embassy has recently increased security, including putting armed Marines on the roof behind sandbag bunkers.

Earlier this month the embassy warned citizens in Kenya to “exercise caution” at venues with World Cup crowds. The British government warned that in Nigeria “terrorists have previously targeted places where football matches are being viewed.” Ugandan police and the US Embassy in Kampala have issued alerts about impending attacks.

Bars and restaurants in Kenya have reported smaller than average crowds during this year’s World Cup compared with previous tournament periods.

World Cup screening venues in 10 countries – Nigeria, Somalia, Kenya, Iraq, Tanzania, Uganda, Djibouti, Burundi, Ethiopia, Tunisia – face risk of attack, according to Robert Besseling, the lead Africa analyst at the consulting firm IHS Country Risk.

Kenya’s security forces shot and killed five people suspected of killing 60 residents in two nighttime attacks on a coastal town this week, the Kenyan Interior Ministry said Friday.

The ministry said Friday that Kenya’s police inspector general was on the country’s Indian Ocean coast to oversee the process of taking fingerprints from the dead suspects to help identify them. The ministry said three AK-47 assault rifles and ammunition were also recovered.

Attackers killed about 50 people in Mpeketoni, a coastal town, on Sunday night as World Cup matches were playing on TV. Ten more people were killed in a second night of attacks.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has blamed political forces inside Kenya for the attack, despite the fact that the Somali militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility. – Sapa-AP

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