By KENFREY KIBERENGE
Security agencies are scratching their heads following an emerging trend where terror activities are being directed at soft targets.
Like in the rest of the world, Kenya’s security agencies are agonising on how to prevent attacks on places such as nightclubs, bus termini, supermarkets and shopping malls as well as places of worship.
The helplessness is best illustrated by a grenade attack a few weeks ago on a church in Ngara that claimed one life and left scores injured, despite a standing alert over a looming terror attack issued by the US and UK embassies within the same week.
However, there is consensus that there is no known tactic to completely eliminate attacks on such places, although the same could be reduced.
Deputy Police Spokesman Charles Owino admits that while they have been able to foil numerous planned attacks on bigger targets, stopping attacks on the soft targets has been tricky.
“It is not possible to have police officers all over,” he said. Soft targets are areas not subject to special protection that are frequented by the public.
With attention shifting to high security areas such as the airports, barracks, embassies and Government offices, places such as nightclubs, churches and bus stations have been left exposed.
These targets do not have the benefit of protection of by the Government, though some of them such as places of worship; business establishments may have their own physical security measures.
Big establishments including mainstream churches and shopping malls have hired private security guards to frisk visitors but smaller outlets and churches have thrown caution to the wind.
Kenya Episcopal Conference Secretary General Fr Vincent Wambugu says the Catholic Church has put in place measures to ensure that their faithful are safe.
“We frisk them as they enter the church and we urge the security personnel to treat each day as a new day to avoid being complacent. However, I cannot tell how long this will go on,” said Wambugu. In smaller Pentecostal churches, though, faithful just file in on Sundays.