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Kenyan security officials on high alert for papal visit

Kenyan security officials on high alert for papal visit

Kenyan bishop said the church is comfortable with the security preparations for the reception of Pope Francis, in the wake of the Paris attacks that appear to have targeted crowded areas.

“The church and the Kenyan government have worked well,” Bishop Anthony Muheria said. “We have received sufficient support from the state, because the pope is visiting the country both as the head of the Catholic Church and head of state.”

Kenya’s security agencies are on a high alert following the Islamic State attacks in Paris Nov. 13, and security agents can be seen moving around the venues where Pope Francis will hold public functions during his Nov. 25-27 visit. At the University of Nairobi grounds, security has tightened, and the students as well as the staff have had to contend with stringent security checks.

In April, the terrorist group al-Shabab attacked Garissa University, and 147 students were killed. That the papal Mass is being held in a university has caused heightened security plans.

“All our gates have added security personnel, and each one has to go through physical body checks at every entry, including the lecture halls and offices. We have been advised not to carry unnecessary bags into the compound and lecture halls,” said Joseph Oronjo, a student at the University of Nairobi.

Joseph Boinnet, inspector general of police, has urged Kenyans to remain vigilant and support the security forces during the pope’s visit.

“While we the police have stepped up vigilance, we call on the public to exercise maximum level of alertness,” Boinnet said. “The terror threats remains real in our country. I urge everyone to report any suspicious activity and/or persons to the police or any security agency for action.”