NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya’s government said on Saturday it was “shocked and concerned” over the latest travel warnings issued by Britain and others and said security conditions in the east African country were improving.
Britain told its citizens in an updated advisory issued on Friday to avoid most Kenyan coastal resorts, citing such threats as al Shabaab Islamist militants who have killed more than 200 people in Kenya in the past two years.
The tougher advisory deals another blow to Kenya’s battered tourist industry, a valuable source of foreign exchange. The downturn in visitors has put pressure on the Kenyan shilling and forced some hotels out of business.
“We are shocked and concerned at the latest advisories given by our friends from the international community,” Joseph Nkaissery, cabinet secretary for Interior and Coordination, told a news conference, in comments clearly aimed especially at Britain.
“This is in spite of the fact that the situation on the ground has been improving steadily owning to the ongoing operations.”
Australia warned its citizens on Friday that militants might be planning an attack in Nairobi, without naming any groups. The new British warning did not mention any specific threats of an attack.
Britain’s move came barely a week after Kenyan officials urged visiting British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond to lift an earlier warning that had advised against travel to a smaller portion of the coast, areas near the Somali border and parts of Nairobi.
“We are particularly concerned that the countries that have issued the advisories are considered friends, who have been part of our counter-terrorism efforts all along,” Nkaissery said.
Al Shabaab, which is linked to al Qaeda, was behind a deadly raid on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall in 2013 in which 67 people were killed. It also killed about 100 people in attacks in Lamu County last summer.
The militants say the attacks are in revenge for Kenya sending troops to Somalia, who are now part of an African Union peacekeeping force, to tackle the Islamist group.