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Iteere assures residents security will be beefed up

By | October 5th 2011 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

By Paul Gitau and Philip Mwakio

The Lamu archipelago will be under a 24-hour surveillance both by sea and air to counter any further incursions from neighbouring Somalia.

Speaking in Lamu, Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere said that an M I-17 police helicopter would be permanently stationed at the island’s Manda airstrip.

"We shall not tolerate any incursions by suspected remnants of Al Shabaab into Kenyan soil," the police chief, who was accompanied by Tourism Minister Najib Balala said.

Iteere said that all going vessels entering Kenyan waters on the border with Somalia would be subjected to scrutiny at sea.

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"There will be night and day patrols by the regular police, the Navy and Administration Police to secure this zone," the police chief added.

At the same time, Iteere appealed to hoteliers to ensure that they have best management practices when it comes to securing their establishments.

He announced that since the Kenyan coast was vast, the Government had categorised areas with tourist resorts into blocs to enable effective policing. The police boss said that the two incidents where foreigners were abducted by suspected Al Shabaab militias pointed to some inside job.

"Since the two attacks happened only days after the foreigners had arrived, it points to an inside job as information on the foreigners’ whereabouts must have been passed on to the attackers," he said.

To ensure rapid response to rising security concerns, Iteere announced that three new Toyota Landcruisers were being dispatched to Kiunga, Kizingitini and Mpeketoni Police stations respectively.

"We shall also have fast boats deployed at sea," he reassured.

Plea for calm

Balala appealed to hoteliers in the area to remain calm and continue with their operations. The minister was reacting to reports that a number of tourist establishments were contemplating closing shop owing to insecurity. (Separate story above).

Balala said that the recent travel advisories issued on Kenya by the United Kingdom and France would be rescinded.

"The Government has entered into negotiations with these countries, which are major tourist markets for Kenya with a view to convincing them to withdraw the advisories," Balala said.

He revealed that next week, a team of diplomats accredited to Nairobi would visit the archipelago to assess the security situation.

"They will be coming here to review the progress so far and assist in having the travel advisories scaled down or removed completely," the minister said.

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