Kenya warned Thursday of the risk that groups such as Al Shabaab could carry out attacks in “solidarity” with Hamas after the Palestinian militant group’s bloody assault on Israel.
The country has suffered a number of attacks carried out by the Somalia-based Al Shabaab since sending troops into its neighbour Somalia in 2011 to battle the Al Qaeda-affiliated militias.
“Conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza impacts global security,” Kenya’s counterterrorism police service said on X, formerly Twitter.
“Terror groups like Al Shabaab may conduct attacks in solidarity with Hamas to remain relevant. Kenyans need to be vigilant and report terror activities to police for action,” it added.
Al Shabaab, which has been waging a deadly insurgency for more than 15 years against Somalia’s fragile central government, issued a statement on Wednesday praising the surprise weekend assault by Hamas.
The Islamist gunmen killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took about 150 hostages. Israel has retaliated by raining air and artillery strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza for six days, killing over 1,350 Palestinians.
Kenya’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday said it condemned “in the strongest terms possible, the unprovoked attack by Hamas militants on the people of Israel”.
“This egregious act of violence, has not only disrupted the fragile peace in the Middle East but also poses a significant threat to global peace and security.”
President William Ruto urged both sides to refrain from further violence.
Kenya is a major contributor to the African Union force backing Somalia’s central government in Mogadishu in its fight against Al Shabaab and has suffered a string of deadly retaliatory assaults.
The country last month marked the 10th anniversary of a siege at the upmarket Westgate shopping centre in the capital Nairobi in 2013 that killed 67 people.
Two years after Westgate, Al Shabaab fighters attacked Garissa University in Eastern Kenya, killing 148 people, almost all students.
It was the second most deadly attack in Kenya’s history, surpassed only by Al Qaeda’s bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi in 1998 that killed 213 people.
In 2019, Al Shabaab gunmen killed 21 people at the upscale Dusit hotel complex in Nairobi.
In 2002, an Al Qaeda suicide car bombing at an Israeli-owned resort hotel near the Indian Ocean port city of Mombasa killed at least 13 people, including three Israelis, while an Israeli jetliner narrowly escaped a missile attack on take-off from Mombasa airport.