Piracy off the coast of Somalia has reduced by 40 per cent since the deployment of Kenya forces in the country, spurring tourism growth in the region.
Kenya security officials said exclusive economic zones off the coast were now secure from attacks by Al-Shabaab, a wing of Al-Qaeda, which is suspected to have been behind the grenade attacks at the Machakos Bus Station in Nairobi on Saturday.
The attacks left six dead and 41 injured. At a joint meeting with the Defence and Foreign Relations committee of parliament, ministers George Saitoti (Internal Security), Yusuf Haji (Defence), Moses Wetang’ula (Foreign Affairs), and Chief of Defence Forces General Julius Karangi said Al-Shabab had disrupted the economy through abduction of maritime vessels and tourists.
“By the time we decided to go into Somalia, it was clear that Al-Shabaab was undermining both our security and the economy.
We today can report that the KDF has managed to deal a severe blow to Al-Shabaab.
There has not been any single case of piracy since then,” said Prof Saitoti
He said tourism arrivals at Mombasa port had increased following Kenya Navy patrols along the coastline and deep into the Indian Ocean.
“In fact, last December we witnessed the arrival of a tourism cruise ship which docked in Mombasa because of our intervention. Travel advisories over insecurity will be a thing of the past,” said General Karangi.
The country, he added, had suffered rampant piracy, abductions, and disruptions of tourism activities leading to KDF’s incursion into Somalia. “We knew that piracy is born on the land not the sea.
They had become so daring that they attacked a vessel as it was entering the Port of Mombasa days before our incursion into Somalia,” Mr Karangi said.
Mr Wetang’ula said Kenya’s strategic objective in Somalia was to suppress piracy, secure the country’s exclusive economic zones and maritime routes, repartriate refugees, and help restore peace in the war-torn country.
Prof Saitoti said the government had increased the number of Kenya Navy’s security boats to boost patrols on the coastline.
Inspecting all boats
He said that Kenya Navy officers were inspecting all boats entering or leaving the country’s territory, adding that those that refuse to stop would be sunk.
Tourists attraction sites are also being patrolled in addition to tightened security at all hotels and villas.
“Security surveillance in supermarkets, hotels, and churches as well as other public places has been beefed up,” Prof Saitoti told the committee.
The committee, which is chaired by Wajir West MP Adan Kaynan, had sought a progress report on the incursion into Somalia to pursue Al-Shabaab which was launched last October 15.