Nairobi (AFP) – Kenya's government had been warned, including by Israel, of the high risk of an attack before the assault on a Nairobi mall by Islamist gunmen that killed at least 67 people, newspapers reported Saturday.
Cabinet ministers and Kenya's army chief had received information warning of a plan to carry out a major attack, the Daily Nation said, quoting a leaked intelligence report.
On September 21, gunmen with automatic weapons and grenade burst into the upscale Westgate mall in Nairobi in an attack that lasted four days and left at least 67 dead.
It was claimed by Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab group as retaliation for Kenya's military presence in Somalia.
The Nation newspaper said the treasury, interior, foreign affairs and defence ministers, as well as the army chief, had been told of an elevated risk.
"Briefs were made to them of increasing threat of terrorism and of plans to launch simultaneous attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa around September 13 and 20, 2013," according to the report quoted in the paper.
The report also said Israel, which has close security ties with Kenya, had warned of plans to attack Israeli property in September, a month which included several Jewish holidays.
The Westgate mall, popular with expatriates and wealthy Kenyans, is part owned by Israelis and had long been considered a prime potential target.
"The Israeli embassy in Nairobi has raised concern with the foreign affairs ministry that Iran and Hezbollah from Lebanon have been collecting operational intelligence and open interests in Israeli and Jewish targets around the world including Kenya," the report said.
According to security sources, Israeli services are playing a lead role in the ongoing investigation into the attack, which saw gunmen storm the mall and spray bullets on shoppers before hunkering down to fight off special forces for three days.
President Uhuru Kenyatta announced on Tuesday that the siege was over.
The head of Kenya's National Intelligence Service, Michael Gichangi, is scheduled to be grilled by lawmakers on Monday amid growing public concern that the state was inadequately prepared.