Kenya’s interior minister responded with shock and anger to a U.S. warning against travel to the country, suggesting that just because one of Kenya’s top tourist mall destinations was targeted for a terrorist attack doesn’t mean the West has to go on red alert and visitors have to switch their vacation plans.
The warning against travel to Kenya is “unnecessary” and, moreover, downright “unfriendly,” Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said in remarks to reporters in the wake of last week’s terrorist attack at the Westgate Mall that left more than 60 dead, Reuters reported. The United States, in response, sent out a warning for all its citizens in Kenya to be on alert.
“We believe issuing the travel advisory is counter-productive in the fight against global terrorism,” Mr. Lenku said in The Hill. “We request the United States, as a friend to Kenya, lift the travel advisory.”
The State Department put out a notice Friday that warned “U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Kenya” and said specifically: “U.S. citizens in Kenya, and those considering travel to Kenya, should evaluate their personal security situation in light of continuing and recently heightened threats from terrorism and the high rate of violence crime in some areas. The U.S. government continues to receive information about potential terrorist threats aimed at U.S., Western and Kenyan interests in Kenya, including in the Nairobi area and in the coastal city of Mombasa.”
The Somalia-based Islamist terror group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the mall attack — and also vowed more acts of violence if Kenya and the West did not stop trying to disband the organization.