The Star (Nairobi)

5 July 2012

Kenya: Terrorists Target Soft Spots for Terror Raids

While Kenyan security agents have been providing security to vital installations and places frequented by foreigners and tourists, terrorists have been targeting soft spots which are never guarded. Most of the grenade attacks that have occurred in the city and elsewhere in the country have targeted churches, crowed business premises with more than one door, small hotels and bars, bus stops and moving vehicles which are often not subjected to strict security checks.

The terror masterminds target the soft spots where the impact in terms of casualty figures-deaths and injuries- are likely to be high and intimidate the ordinary Kenyans. On the hand, increased security surveillance and vigilance in most buildings in the city and other urban areas makes it difficult for the terrorists to target them. This makes the soft targets, which have high human traffic, vulnerable for terror attacks.

The Moi avenue blast at midday on May 28 is a case in point. Aware that that Assanands building on Moi Avenue which housed more than fifty small businesses had two exits and no security, two young men walked into one of the stalls in the pretext of purchasing a shirt, and left a bag containing explosives before vanishing. The subsequent explosion ripped off the roof of the building and blew the wall away injuring more than 30 people.

The Machakos Bus Station grenade attack on upcountry commuters on the evening of March 10, killed six people who were boarding buses to different destinations. The fatalities would have been higher had the attack been in an enclosed building. The Uhuru Park grenade attack on a church crusade on June 16, 2010 killed six people and injured more than 30 others. The target was a large crowd of faithful.

It was near impossible for security agents to secure such a location unless they frisked everyone entering the park and that would have entailed the use of a large number of police officers. It is for this reason that Commissioner of Police Mathew Iteere and Nairobi police boss Anthony KIbuchii have been urging Kenyans to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities or persons to the nearest police or security agents.

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