Namibia: Ruckus Over Alleged Terrorism Threat to Chinese

A LEAKED police circular suggesting a potential threat of terrorism to Chinese nationals in the country has caused an uproar among Namibians.

Additionally, the authorities are accused of not handling the alleged threat according to protocol.

This comes after Namibian police inspector general Sebastian Ndeitunga issued a circular on 23 July, requesting regional police commanders to tighten security around Chinese nationals and their businesses.

The memo followed a warning by the Chinese defence attaché to Namibia, colonel Gao Peng, of potential terrorist attacks on Chinese nationals in the country.

According to Ndeitunga, Peng's warning came in the wake of a recent bomb blast on a bus in Pakistan, in which nine Chinese workers were among 13 people killed. A further 28 Chinese nationals were injured.

The bus was carrying Chinese engineers, surveyors and mechanical staff to the Dasu Dam construction site.

"The issue should not be taken out of context. That letter is based on what happened in Pakistan. The Chinese embassy called the Namibian Police to sensitise us that this could also happen to Chinese nationals here," Ndeitunga said yesterday.

"What is required is for the nation to be vigilant. The security measures we are putting in place are not just for the Chinese, but for everyone. This is because terrorism affects everyone," he said.

Ndeitunga said there is currently no imminent threat against Chinese nationals in Namibia, and expressed disappointment that his request was widely circulated on social media.

"I think it [the circular] was leaked. It was just to sensitise the security forces that the world is a village. What happened in Pakistan can happen anywhere in the world, and we should raise the vigilance bar because the enemy does not make an appointment," he said.

Namibians on social media questioned the police's authority to order tightened security measures to mitigate potential terrorist attacks in the country.

Retired diplomat Pius Dunaiski yesterday said he was surprised at Namibians' reaction to the potential threat.

He said an embassy has the right to ask a host country for additional safety and security measures, according to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

"The host country is responsible for such protection by international law," he said.

Dunaiski said an alleged threat should first be assessed by Namibian intelligence agencies before action is instructed to law-enforcement agencies.

The issue should have been routed through the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, he says. Dunaiski asked whether State House and the Office of the Prime Minister were briefed before Ndeitunga took action.

"Now it appears the Chinese have the intelligence, and we are merely jumping. Ndeitunga must explain his actions to the nation. Have we reached such levels of anti-Chinese sentiments in Namibia? It sounds like a hoax," he said.

Helen Lu, spokesperson of the Chinese embassy in Namibia, said the notice to the Namibian police "is a regular safety reminder given the current situation".

Attempts to get comment from minister of international relations Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah proved futile.

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