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US warns of possible terror attack in Mombasa

By - | Published Sat, June 23rd 2012 at 00:00, Updated June 23rd 2012 at 11:21 GMT +3

The US government has warned of an imminent threat of a terrorist attack in Mombasa and asked all their government personnel to leave the coastal city.

The embassy said in a statement that all U.S. government travel to Mombasa is suspended until July 1, 2012.

“U.S. private citizens are not subject to the same restrictions, but should consider this information in their travel planning,” read part of the statement.

This is the third such travel advisory being issued by the US since Kenyan troops crossed to Somalia to hunt down Al Shabaab militants who have been blamed for various insecurity incidents.

But acting head of civil service Francis Kimemia said there was no cause for alarm adding security agencies are ahead of events. He said police have been thwarting several terror attempts in the country linked to the terror groups.

“We work with even the FBI in this war. We are ahead of the criminals.”

Commissioner of police Mathew Iteere too said police are working round the clock to ensure the country is safe from such threats.

The advisory came days after police said they had arrested two Iranians after they seized chemicals they suspected were going to be used to make explosives in Mombasa, which has been hit by a series of attacks.

The port city, the capital Nairobi and other parts of Kenya have suffered a series of grenade attacks since Kenya sent troops into Somalia last year to try to crush Al Shabaab insurgents it blames for a surge in violence and kidnappings threatening tourism.

Police arrested the Iranians on Wednesday in Nairobi and impounded a container in Mombasa originating from Iraq and suspected to be carrying explosives.

On Thursday, police flew one of the suspects to Mombasa, where he led police to recover 15 kg of powder, which security experts took to their laboratory for testing.

Kimemia said the chemical was apparently part of the consignment impounded by anti terrorism officers at a go down in Changamwe and is being tested by local and foreign experts.

He said police want to find out whether the substances are linked to any terror groups, including Al Shabaab, al Qaeda and any other group.

He added that the government had sought the help of international agencies such the FBI and Interpol in helping deal with security threats.

"We have been working with them in terms of identifying criminals. We cannot fight terrorism alone. You have to work with other partners and other state organs," he said. In the most recent attack, a bomb exploded in a trading centre in the heart of Nairobi in late May, killing one person and wounding more than 30 people. Al Shabaab has hundreds of foreign fighters in its ranks.