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Al-Shabaab threat looms as as Obama comes to talk security

By AFP July 24th, 2015 1 min read

US President Barack Obama arrives in his ancestral homeland Kenya late Friday, with a massive security operation under way to protect him from Al-Qaeda-linked Somali militants.

At least 10,000 police officers — roughly one quarter of the entire national force — will be deployed to the capital.

Top of the list of security concerns is Somalia`s Al-Shabaab militia, which has staged a string of suicide attacks, massacres and bombings on Kenyan soil, including the bloody attack on the Westgate shopping mall in the heart of the capital nearly two years ago that left 67 dead.

Excitement has been building in Kenya for weeks, with the visit painted as a major boost for the country`s position as an African hub – something that has taken a battering in recent years due to Al-Shabaab attacks and political violence that landed Kenyan leaders in the International Criminal Court.

Police have increased patrol in the central business district. PHOTO | NAIROBI NEWS
Police have increased patrol in the central business district. PHOTO | NAIROBI NEWS

“I need not tell you how eagerly we have all waited for the day, or how keen we all are to make it the most memorable of homecomings,” President Uhuru Kenyatta told reporters this week.

“It`s a vote of confidence for our city and our country,” Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero said.

Governor Kidero has overseen a clean-up campaign in Nairobi, including the filling of potholes, sweeping of streets, the repainting of faded road markings and laying new pavements on once muddy sidewalks.

President Obama is celebrated as a hero throughout the country, yet many Kenyans have been disappointed it has taken him until almost the end of his second term in office to make the trip.