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Kenya says airports not under imminent threat

NAIROBI, Feb. 29 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's airport authorities confirmed on Monday that the country's airports are not under imminent terror threats amid tight security at all entry points across the East African nation.

"We wish to inform the general public that the aviation industry is very sensitive to all security matters. We take proactive action on any intelligence information however frivolous it may seem,"Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) Acting Managing Director Yatich Kangugo told journalists.

His remarks came after internal memo from KAA Security Manager Eric Kiraithe warned that the militants posing as passengers plan to target domestic flights where they intend to blow themselves up during the landing.

The memo prompted the police chief to beef up security in major airports following intelligence reports on Sunday evening of impending attacks by Al-Shabaab.

Kiraithe said 11 militants have undergone training in neighbouring Somalia and could carry out attacks as early as in March.

"Domestic flights are the main targets. Operatives posing as passengers intend to blow themselves up during landing," he said, noting that five operatives will target Jomo Kenyatta International Airport or Wilson Airport in Nairobi while the rest will focus on airports at the Coast region, among them Moi International Airport.

But Kangugo said his office acted on first informant, regretting that the information was released prematurely without awaiting the due verification by the threat assessment experts from the National Aviation Security Committee and other security agencies.

"KAA is aware of the prevailing global terrorism threat by among others Al-Shabaab who have issued public threats against Kenya," Kangugo said.

He said the KAA has raised its operational threat category to high alert in conjunction with all other national security organs who have increased vigilance to counter any potential threats.

"The public are urged to maintain vigilance and inform law enforcement agencies of any information on suspicious activities as they go about their daily lives," he added.

In the memo, Kiraithe said the militants received immense training on airborne suicide missions in readiness for the assaults.

He warned that the attacks are likely to paralyse operations at vital installations with far-reaching ramifications to national security.

The memo came after a plane belonging to Daallo Airlines was hit by a suicide bomber in Mogadishu on Feb 2.

The latest move comes after Kenya's Inspector General of police Joseph Boinnet warned of possible terror attacks in the country, saying Al-Shabaab threat remains alive in the country.

"Available information indicate that Al-Shabaab is still keen on attacking us targeting security installations, soft targets in the Northern Kenya Counties, in the Coast and other major cities," said Boinnet on Friday.

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