24 September 2013 by Alex Stewart
Kenya tourism authorities have sought to reassure travellers of the country's safety. The cabinet secretary for East Africa Commerce and Tourism, Phyllis Kandie, reassured visitors that tourist facilities are continuing to operate normally across the country, saying, ‘We wish to assure tourists that Kenya is peaceful and our security agencies are doing everything possible to ensure that everyone is safe.'
The pronouncement comes in the wake of the attack on the Westgate shopping centre in Kenya's capital Nairobi by suspected Somali Islamist al-Shabab militants. The attack, thought to be in retaliation for Kenyan military operations in Somalia, started on Saturday 19 September. At least 62 people have been killed, including six Britons, and more than 170 injured.
Kenyan security forces have announced that they have taken control of all floors of the Westgate shopping centre and the situation is expected to be resolved shortly. Kenyan officials have also declared that all hostages held at the complex are free. There are though conflicting reports relating to the attackers. A number are reported to have been killed during the siege and more are thought to have been taken in to custody.
With the operation to contain the attack concluding, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office has warned travellers to the city to, ‘exercise a heightened level of vigilance,' avoid the areas around the shopping centre and other crowded places. People are warned to also not travel to within 60km of the Kenya-Somali border.
More than 185,000 British nationals travelled to Kenya in 2012, with the F&CO noting that the majority of visits were trouble free.