Kenyan authorities said Saturday that they had thwarted attempted attacks by an al-Qaida-linked Somali militant group over Christmas and the New Year, as Britain warned its citizens over looming terror threats in Kenya.
Col. Cyrus Oguna, a Kenyan military spokesman, said officials received intelligence from credible sources that the Somali militant group al-Shabab was planning an attack over Christmas and New Year. He said Kenyan troops in Somalia made pre-emptive strikes on different targets in Somalia based on that information.
"We carried out pre-emptive strikes and disruptive strikes in Somalia and police secured things here at home and as a result of that we were able to have peaceful Christmas and New Year festivities," he said.
Britain's Foreign Office urged Britons in Kenya to be extra vigilant, warning that terrorists there may be "in the final stages of planning attacks."
Oguna said Kenyan police on Dec. 31 killed three suspected al-Shabab militants caught trying to sneak into the country to disrupt New Year celebrations. Three suspects were arrested. He said the six men were seen by Kenya's navy in Kenyan territory in two skiffs on the Dec 30. They abandoned the skiffs and hid among mangrove trees, Oguna said, but locals alerted police of their presence.
Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said the men were armed with six AK-47 rifles and more than 500 bullets.
Kenyan troops entered Somalia in mid-October to attack the militants, and have been supported by the country's weak army.
Oguna said that they will continue to put pressure on al-Shabab and that at least 60 militants were killed in airstrikes on Garbaharey town, an al-Shabab base, on Friday.
Kenya blames al-Shabab for a string of kidnappings on Kenyan soil, including those of four Europeans. The kidnappings threatened Kenya's tourism industry, a key source of revenue for the country. Al-Shabab, Somalia's most dangerous militant group, is waging an insurgency against Somalia's weak, U.N.-backed government.
Ethiopian troops recently entered Somalia on the country's west, and they along with African Union troops in Mogadishu are squeezing al-Shabab fighters on three sides.
The group has said it will carry out suicide bombings in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, in retaliation for Kenya's military incursion. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the July 2010 suicide attacks in Kampala, Uganda which killed 76 people watching the World Cup final.
Britain's Foreign Office ministry said in a travel advisory issued Saturday that attacks could be indiscriminate and could target places where expatriates and foreign travelers gather, including hotels, shopping centers and beaches.
Meanwhile, Kenyan police say they want to apprehend British national Natalie Faye Webb, who is believed to have links to al-Shabab. A Kenyan court issued a warrant of her arrest on Wednesday. Kiraithe did not give details on why she is wanted by the police.
The court also issued an arrest warrant for Kenyan national Habib Saleh Gani.
Associated Press Writer Sylvia Hui contributed to this report from London.
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