EU offers wider security support for Kenya after mall attack


The European Union has offered to increase counter-terrorism support to Kenya after the Westgate mall attack in which gunmen from a Somali Islamist group killed at least 67 people in Nairobi, a senior EU official said on Wednesday.

Kenya, an ally for Western powers trying to curb the spread of radical Islam out of east Africa and in particular Somalia, has in the past suffered major attacks on its soil by al Qaeda and its Somali affiliate al Shabaab.

Analysts and diplomats say the five-day Westgate siege showed large holes in Kenya’s security apparatus despite Israel, the United States and Britain training many Kenyan intelligence, military and police officers over the years.

Human rights groups have also accused Kenya’s Anti Terror Police Unit of brutality and extra-judicial killings of mainly Muslim men suspected to have linked to al Shabaab. Kenyan officials have repeatedly dismissed the allegations.

Nick Westcott, EU managing director for Africa, said EU plans include helping Kenya boost regional intelligence co-operation, greater support for Kenya’s crisis response co-ordination and tracking financial flows of terror suspects.

During the Westgate attack Kenya’s main intelligence agencies were criticized for their poor communication and information sharing with each other, as well as east African and Western intelligence agencies.

Westcott said the EU has also offered support and advice on how to deal with “radicalization of political discourse which encourages people to resort to terrorism”.
“A lot of these are issues we’ve had to face ourselves in Europe so we have experience and skills that we are very happy to transfer to Kenya,” he told reporters in Nairobi.

More Kenyan police could be trained in Europe, he said.

Westcott also told Kenyan officials it was important to find the right balance between security and civil freedoms.