by Joy Nabukewa, Njoroge Kaburo and Stephen Ingati
NAIROBI, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan authorities have intensified security across the country, especially along its borders with Somalia, as the security operation to rescue the last batch of hostages entered the second day on Sunday.
Police commanders in the country's major cities and towns confirmed Sunday that security agencies have sealed off border points and all entry points amid the hostage standoff at the popular Westgate shopping mall since Saturday in the capital Nairobi of the East African country.
In the coastal city of Mombasa, authorities said security around the tourism resort city and its environs have been placed on a high alert. "Security is very tight. Even though I am in Nairobi for official duties, I have issued instructions to my officers to ensure that all is well in Mombasa and its environs," Mombasa Police Commander Joseph Kitur told Xinhua by telephone on Sunday.
He said the police officers have stepped up patrols to ensure peace and calm prevail in all the six districts, especially areas bordering Somalia.
The Indian Ocean port city, the capital Nairobi and the northern region have suffered a series of grenade attacks since Kenya sent troops into Somalia in October 2011 to try to pursue Al- Shabaab insurgents blamed for a surge in violence and kidnappings threatening tourism.
The East African nation's coastal towns are the backbone of the country's thriving tourism industry, which has been hit by the fear of terror attacks and the kidnapping of foreigners by Somali pirates from resorts near the border with Somalia.
Kenya's tourism has suffered a decline in tourist arrivals since September 2011, when the Somali militant group Al-Shabaab carried out the kidnappings of tourists in the Lamu archipelago and the kidnapping of the Spanish volunteers.
"Security patrols will continue until we are assured that all everything is fine. All districts are under surveillance of security agencies to ensure no attack of whatever magnitude takes place there," Kitur said.
Police and government officials now call the Westgate incident a terror attack, in which 59 people have been confirmed dead, including some close family members of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Police in the northern region, especially Garissa bordering Somalia, say they have also intensified security on high value targets in the town.
Speaking to Xinhua on phone Garissa County Police Commander Charles Kinyua said security had been beefed up in all the 36 churches in the township.
He also said the Tana bridge which links the region with the rest of the county was also been manned by paramilitary personnel round the clock.
"We have also put on high alert all our security agencies along the 1,200 km Kenya Somalia border with the Rapid Deployment Units at Amuma, Liboi and Holugho who are ready to mobilize when need be, " said Kinyua.
Kinyua also said they were liaising with national security intelligence service and military intelligence to try and snuff out any would be threats.
He assured residents in the border country that security agencies were on top of things and they should not be worried.
Garissa has been hit by a string of Al-Shabaab attacks with the major incident happening on the July 1 in 2012, when 40 worshippers were killed in the AIC church.