The Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa, and its beautiful beaches, are usually full of thousands of people from Kenya and Europe during the Christmas holiday. But this year, there are few people on the beaches or in the city’s many hotels. That is because of a recent series of terror attacks linked to Somali militants.
Abdallah Omar sells bathing suits. He says he does not have many customers this year.
"For all the years I have been here, this year business has been bad. If I compare it with the last six years, business was fairly good. This year, I don’t think kids will go to school."
Terrorists have attacked places in Mombasa, and there have been killings of people suspected of terrorism and also religious workers. In the past year, police have temporarily closed some Muslim religious centers. Many people who live in Mombasa are Muslim and the city has many mosques. Officials have accused the leaders of some of the mosques of trying to convince young Muslim men to become militants. The officials also say some mosque leaders have been telling some of their followers to join the Somali terrorist group al-Shabab. Members of the group have carried out many attacks in Kenya in the last few years.
Police in Mombasa say there has been an increase in attacks on civilians, government workers and religious workers by young Muslim men.
In answer to the attacks, some Western countries have warned their citizens not to travel to Mombasa.
City officials estimate businesses that depend on travelers have received $4 million less so far because of the attacks.
VOA spoke with a German traveler named Brian who says he feels safe in Mombasa.
“And I heard the travel warning, and then I called the embassy. They were saying ‘You gonna be safe -- we raised the security,’ and I, I, I try not to follow fears in general.”
Alfred Mwenda sells sunglasses. He says people do not understand that many of the attacks have happened not in Mombasa but in Lamu, a town nearby.
"Those visitors who come from Nairobi, if they hear Mombasa or Lamu there is death, and a terror attack. They see Mombasa like Lamu. Most don’t know that Lamu is different from Mombasa."
Business and hotel owners hope the New Year brings calm and the return of travelers.
I’m Christopher Cruise.
Correspondent Mohammed Yusuf reported this story from Mombasa. Christopher Cruise wrote it for Learning English. Mario Ritter edited the story.
Words from This Story
bathing suits – n. clothing worn by people when they enter a lake, ocean or swimming pool
mosque – n. a religious center for people of the Muslim faith; a building used for public worship my Muslimselse