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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
United States issues travel warning for Kenya ahead of elections

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The United States has warned its citizens living in or planning to travel to Kenya to be very vigilant over possible outbreaks of violence before the country’s Aug. 8 general elections.

In a travel alert issued on Thursday evening, the State Department said political rallies, demonstrations, and protests may occur with little notice and even those intended to be peaceful can escalate into violence.

"As with all large events, there is also the opportunity for criminal elements or terrorists to target participants and visitors," says the State Department.

The Al-Qaeda-allied militia group, Al-Shabaab, has threatened Kenya with retaliatory attacks, saying it considers the forces’ crossborder incursion in pursuit of the militants, an affront to Somalia’s sovereignty.

The travel alert warns Americans to avoid areas of gatherings, protests, and demonstrations, and exercise caution if unexpectedly in the vicinity of any such events.

"U.S. citizens are urged to exercise caution and remain abreast of the security situation. Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities," the State Department says.

It also cautions Americans to avoid crowds and remain alert when using public transportation as well as report specific safety concerns to local law enforcement authorities.

"Restrictions on traffic circulation, either imposed by the authorities or caused by political rallies, could occur during the elections period," reads the alert.

The East African nation plans to hold the general elections on Aug. 8 and various political parties are carrying out selection for national and county offices throughout the country this month, followed by nationwide campaigning.

Analysts had also warned that the warnings are a blow to Kenya’s already troubled tourist industry which relies on foreign visitor, many of whom combine safaris with beach holidays in Mombasa.

           

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