UK & World News

  • 17 May 2014, 8:27

Kenya Blasts As Britons Warned To Leave

Two bombs have exploded in a busy market in the Kenyan capital as hundreds of British tourists prepare to return to the UK amid warnings of a "high threat" of terrorism.

At least 13 people were killed and more than 70 others wounded in the blasts on a minibus and in Nairobi'sGikomba Market.

Kenya's National Disaster Operation Centre said the explosions, condemned by Foreign Secretary William Hague as "appalling acts of violence", were caused by homemade bombs and that one person had been arrested.

Nairobi police said they are holding one suspect in connection with the two explosions.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has warned Britons of a "high threat" of terrorism.

Similar advice has been issued by the governments of France, Australia and the US, prompting travel company Thomson to begin evacuating its 400 customers from the country.

Holidaymakers are being advised to leave unless there is "an essential reason to remain".

A Sky News source said the threat was not specific to British people and no precise plot had been uncovered.

"The advice to consider leaving is due to a general worsening of the security situation over time," the source said.

Another source claimed there was "an increased threat to Western nationals since Westgate" - a reference to the attack on the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi last September by the Somali militant group al Shabaab in which at least 67 people died.

The FCO website has a map of Kenya marking the areas of concern. These include anywhere within 60km of the Kenya-Somali border, the Eastleigh area of Nairobi and Mombasa Island.

The advisory does not cover tourist areas of Diani or Moi international airport which serves the city ofMombasa.

Explaining the threat, the advice reads: "There is a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping. The main threat comes from extremists linked to al Shabaab, a militant group that has carried out attacks in Kenya in response to Kenya's military intervention in Somalia.

"There has been a spate of small-scale grenade, bomb and armed attacks in Nairobi (especially the area of Eastleigh), Mombasa, and North Eastern Province."

The US cited hotels, nightclubs and shopping centres in Mombasa as possible targets.

One flight carrying returning holidaymakers arrived in Gatwick airport on Friday morning and another was due in late on Friday. They had been scheduled to fly on May 20 and 27.

Kenyan authorities have pledged to beef up security but insisted visitors were safe.

Karanja Kibicho, principal secretary at Kenya's foreign affairs department, said the advisories were "obviously unfriendly acts".

Interior ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka added: "The threats are perpetual, we are at war. But we have not received any specific threat on the hotels."

The latest bombings follow explosions in Nairobi and Mombasa on May 3 and 4, which Kenya blames on al Shabaab. Seven people were killed.

Thomson and First Choice have announced they are suspending all flights to Mombasa for six months.