Foreign travel advice
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Kenya, including kidnapping. The main threat is from extremists linked to Al Shabaab, a militant group in Somalia opposed to the Somali government. Al Shabaab has issued public threats against Kenya due to Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia. The Kenyan authorities have increased security to counter potential reprisal attacks by Al Shabaab. There’s some evidence of growing support for Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) in Kenya.
There have been a number of attacks in Kenya in recent years, particularly in Garissa, Lamu and Mandera counties and other areas close to the Somali border, most of which were attributed to Al Shabaab. Armed militia groups operate within the Boni Forest and along the border between Garissa county and Somalia. Further attacks are likely. Methods of attack have included grenades, knife attacks, shootings and bombings, including car bombings, and improvised explosive devices. The FCO advise against all but essential travel to within 60 km of the Kenya-Somali border.
Since spring 2017, there have been multiple attacks in Garissa county and mainland areas of Lamu county involving improvised explosive devices, armed militia and fatal knife attacks. These have killed members of the Kenyan security forces and civilians. The Kenyan security forces have increased their presence in the affected areas.
Several terrorist attacks took place in Garissa county in 2015, including an attack on Garissa University College on 2 April 2015 in which at least 148 people were killed. In June and July 2014 attacks in Lamu and Tana River counties on the Kenyan coast are reported to have killed at least 85 people. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Six British nationals were killed in the September 2013 attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi.
There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attacks in Nairobi and the coast and resort areas of Mombasa and Malindi. The Inspector General of the Kenyan Police has called on the public to adopt a higher level of vigilance and report any suspicious people or activity straight away.
Attacks could be indiscriminate in places frequented by foreigners including hotels, bars, restaurants, sports bars and nightclubs, sporting events, supermarkets, shopping centres, coastal areas including beaches, airports, buses, trains and other transport hubs. Places of worship including churches and mosques have also been targeted. Be particularly vigilant in these areas.
Kenyan official buildings like government offices and law enforcement personnel or facilities have been targeted, and Somali government interests in Kenya may also be targeted. Take extra security precautions if you’re travelling to any of these places.
The authorities in Kenya have successfully disrupted a number of planned attacks and made a number of arrests in recent years. They have also provided extra protection including in areas near to the Somalia border and on the Kenyan coast. In September 2016 Kenya announced the launch of a National Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism.
There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
There is a high threat of kidnapping in the areas within 60km of the Kenya-Somalia border, in Garissa County and in coastal areas north of Pate Island. Westerners have been the target of kidnaps and further attacks in these areas are likely. Along these border areas there are also frequent incursions by Somali militants operating against Kenyan defence forces.
A number of kidnaps have occurred in Dadaab refugee camp in north east Kenya. British aid workers and others working at or visiting Dadaab refugee camp should satisfy themselves that those arranging their stay at the camp have sufficient security arrangements in place.
The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking.
Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.