Expats And Tourists Flee Kenya After Terror Alert

Thousands of tourists and expats have arrived back home after evacuation from Kenya following a terror alert from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).

British holiday firms Thomson, First Choice and Kuoni have scrapped all holiday flights, while travel companies across Europe are also cancelling flights until the end of the season in October.

The expats and tourists were flown back by a fleet of emergency flights over the weekend.

The measures have left the Kenyan tourist economy in tatters and severely disrupted business as highly-skilled expats have dropped tools to flee to safety.

The FCO reckons almost 200,000 business and holiday trips are made to Kenya from Britain each year. Similar numbers also visit Kenya from France, Germany and Scandinavia.

Terror strikes

The warning followed the deaths of at 10 people in two bomb blasts in Nairobi.

The warning concerns random attacks by terrorist rebels belonging to the militant Islamist al-Shabab group.

They were responsible for the attack on a shopping centre in Nairobi last year. Bomb blasts and an indiscriminate gun battle with security forces left 67 dead and more than 100 injured.

Since then, the capital and major cities have regularly been rocked by explosions and shootings.

Last week, Kenyan air force fighters struck at a suspected terrorist base in Somalia.

Local media also reported a bomb scare at the Summer Link Hotel, Mombasa, which is a popular tourist destination.

The FCO warning mainly concerned almost 6,000 tourists and expats staying in and around Mombasa.

Tourist industry in tatters

“Our advice is no one should go to Mombasa and the surrounding area, until further notice,” said a spokesman. “The warning is as the result of intelligence gathered in Kenya, but we cannot discuss the details of any specific threat.

Mwenda Njoka, Kenya’s interior ministry spokesman, felt the warning was “unfortunate and irrational” and pointed out that many other countries, including Britain, faced threats from terrorists.

“Many places in the world are considered unsafe, but we have taken many measures to combat any terrorism threat which has resulted in a drop in the number of attacks.”

The tourist industry is a major foreign currency earner for Kenya. Many tourists book a wildlife safari followed by a beach holiday in Mombasa.

Official Kenyan government statistics show numbers of tourists slumped by 11% last year and a blanket ban by British holiday firms and others across Europe will result in the loss of tens of thousands of visitors.

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