NAIROBI — Kenya has tightened security around the home of US President Barack Obama's step-grandmother after the killing of Osama bin Laden, an official said Thursday.
"In the wake of security challenges including terror threats, I can confirm that we decided to enhance security at the home of Mama Sarah ... ," said regional administrator Francis Mutie, using the popular name for Obama's step-grandmother who lives in western Kenya.
There have been no direct threats against the family but Kenya is on alert following warnings from Al-Qaeda followers after bin Laden was killed by US special forces in Pakistan on May 2.
"All visitors going to the home will have to be thoroughly vetted. They will undergo security screening before they are cleared to visit the home," Mutie said.
"Everybody, including relatives, must comply to make the work of security personnel easier," added the official. "On top of the security that was given, we will also provide more security in terms of escort for Mama Sarah."
The elderly Sarah Obama's homestead has been guarded since her step-grandson was elected president in 2008.
Sarah Obama was the third wife of President Obama's paternal grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama. Although not a blood relation, Obama often refers to her as his grandmother.
Many Kenyans take pride in Obama, whose election sparked widespread jubilation in the country, and consider the US president as one of their own.
The Kenyan government in 2009 officially listed Sarah Obama's Kogelo village, near the border with Uganda, a protected national heritage site in a bid to boost tourism.
Al-Qaeda's threats of retaliation are particularly serious for Kenya which was targeted in 1998 when elements of the radical group bombed the US embassy in central Nairobi, killing 213 people including 12 Americans.
Eleven others were killed almost at the same time when the US embassy in Dar es Salaam in neighbouring Tanzania was also bombed.
The August 7, 1998 bombings were the worst against US interests before the September 11, 2001 attacks on American soil.
On Wednesday Somalia's Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab insurgents vowed to avenge bin Laden's death "very soon".
"We are sending a message to (Barack) Obama and (Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton that we will avenge the death of our leader Sheikh Osama bin Laden very soon," said US-born Omar Hamami, a senior Shebab official.
"Osama is dead but the holy war is not dead. Mujahedeen fighters all over the world are fully prepared to revenge the death of our leader," he added.
The Shebab control large swathes of the lawless Horn of Africa country, which shares a long and porous border with Kenya.
They have repeatedly threatened to attack Kenya for supporting Somalia's transitional government that the rebels are fighting to topple.
Somalia has been mired in a bloody civil war since 1991.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »