Kenyan police dismiss New Zealand security fears

WELLINGTON: Kenyan police have dismissed as outrageous a statement by New Zealand Cricket that it will be unsafe to play a World Cup fixture in Nairobi next month. 

“I would say it’s outrageous and dishonest,” Kenyan national police spokesman Kingori Mwangi told Reuters. “When some of these people hear it’s in African countries, some of them think we are monkeys out there in the rainforests.” 

New Zealand Cricket chief executive Martin Snedden said yesterday a security review had found there were “active terrorist organisations” operating in Nairobi that had the ability to launch an attack. 

“The information was that these terrorist groups are looking to target Western interests in Nairobi,” Snedden said in a statement. He added that Kenyan authorities could not provide adequate security. 

The Kenya Cricket Association (KCA) said it had forwarded an enhanced security plan worked out with South African experts to the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Monday and accused the Kiwis of succumbing to paranoia. 

“They are being paranoid,” KCA Chairman Jimmy Rayani told Reuters. “If people are being paranoid about security, then even the White House would be unsafe,” said Rayani, who is also an ICC board member. 

New Zealand cricketers have twice been close to terror attacks in Sri Lanka and last May the team pulled out of a tour of Pakistan after a bomb blast outside their hotel in Karachi killed 12 people. 

Kenya’s new President Mwai Kibaki pledged last week to improve security for the two World Cup matches in the east African country. 

The World Cup, which is to be played mainly in South Africa, has been beset by doubts over plans to hold games in both Zimbabwe and Kenya. 

Security fears sharpened in Kenya after a suicide bombing killed 16 people in an attack on an Israeli-owned hotel in the city of Mombasa. Another victim later died in hospital. 

Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing and a failed attempt to shoot down with missiles an Israeli airliner taking off nearby. 

The information of potential danger to the New Zealanders came from an ICC security delegation visit to Kenya in mid-January and advice from an independent security adviser. – Reuters

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