Friday, February 09, 2007

Kenya: U.S. warns of crime surge


The United States has told its citizens to think carefully about visiting Kenya because of an upsurge in violent crime it said the Kenyan authorities had a limited capacity to deal with.

The warning was issued after high-profile carjackings involving U.S. citizens. On Sunday, an American woman traveling in the car of a top Kenyan AIDS researcher was shot by carjackers who killed her friend and wounded his wife.

Last month, carjackers shot dead two American women -- the relatives of a U.S. diplomat -- as they sat in a U.S. Embassy car on the outskirts of Nairobi.

The travel advisory issued on Tuesday asked Americans to "consider carefully the risks of travel to Kenya ... due to ongoing safety and security concerns."

"Violent criminal attacks, including armed carjacking and home invasions and burglary, can occur at any time and in any location and are becoming increasingly frequent brazen, vicious, and often fatal," the advisory said.

"Kenyan authorities have limited capacity to deter and investigate such acts," it added.

Washington maintains a high-level travel advisory against Kenya and has issued a specific warning about terrorist threats in the past after the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi was bombed in 1998, killing 214 people.

There has been an increasing number of reports of attacks on diplomats or their families in the past six months.

In September, a U.S. Embassy official was shot in the chest, while a month earlier, the Russian ambassador was stabbed while on the roadside attending to a sick grandchild.

Carjackings of Kenyans and foreigners are common in Nairobi, where gangsters pounce on people for cash, bank cards, mobile phones or cars. Rapes are also common during the robberies.

Crime wave sparks Kenya fear

Embassy warns Americans on Kenya visits

Kenya: Time For a New Approach to Fighting Crime


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