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Kenya on high alert after Uganda bombings

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Armed policing along the Kenya-Somalia border will be boosted, says Mr. Mutua, adding that intelligence officers in major cities had been ordered to even higher vigilance.

All agree that these efforts are welcome, and that the chance is low of another attack so soon after Kampala. But security sources warn that stopping terror plots is difficult.

Regional borders are unfenced, security services are underfunded, and Kenya, especially, is a magnet for immigrants from all corners of East Africa. All of this makes the identification of potential suspects extremely difficult.

“It’s a real cause for concern across the whole region,” says Charles Stith, who was the US Ambassador to Tanzania when Al Qaeda bombed the American embassies there and in Kenya in 1998.

Kenya's experience with terrorism

Kenya has been a target of radical Islamic violence in the past. The Nairobi US embassy bombings killed 212, all but 23 of them Kenyan.

In 2002, another Al Qaeda suicide attack on an Israeli-owned beach hotel killed 13 people. Later that day, other members of the same cell tried to shoot down a Tel Aviv-bound passenger jet as it left Kenya’s Mombasa airport.

“Now our feeling is that the only reason we have not had more embassy-type bomb blasts is pure luck and due to the grace of God,” says Lydia Adhiambo, an office worker in Nairobi. “If these people can cross many countries from Somalia to reach Uganda, then they can come easily to Kenya, to Nairobi, and we know our police cannot do anything.”

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