Kenya on Saturday sharply criticized a decision by the United States to reissue a travel advisory for the country in the wake of the deadly attack on an upscale mall in the capital Nairobi, highlighting fears that the assault could hurt the East African nation’s lucrative tourism industry.
The U.S. State Department released the updated advisory Friday that made specific reference to the September 21 terrorist attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi that left at least 67 people dead, including several foreigners. Five Americans were injured in the attack, according to the State Department.
The advisory, which contained similar wording to one issued in June, warned Americans to take caution in light of ongoing terrorist threats and the high rate of violent crime in some areas.
It noted that U.S. authorities continue to receive information about “potential terrorist threats aimed at U.S., Western and Kenyan interests in Kenya, including in the Nairobi area and in the coastal city of Mombasa.”
Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the U.S. decision to issue the statement Saturday, saying it was “unnecessary and uncalled for.” It urged Washington to withdraw the advisory and said it has made its concerns clear through diplomatic channels.
“Terrorism, such as in the attack on Westgate Mall, is a global problem. The United States, itself, has suffered terror attacks before, and so have other countries right across the globe,” the ministry said. “Issuing travel advisories ... is not what we expect of our friends.”
The militant group al-Shabab has said it carried out the mall attack to punish Kenya for sending its troops into neighboring Somalia to fight the al-Qaida-linked militant group that had seized large parts of that country for years before being dislodged from the capital, Mogadishu.