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JKIA fire not a terrorist act, says President Uhuru

The massive fire that devastated Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) last Wednesday was not an act of terrorism, President Uhuru Kenyatta said today. The Kenyan president also announced plans for a temporary terminal and a unified security command for the country’s largest airport.

President Uhuru Kenyatta talks with passengers at the JKIA Cargo Terminal which has now been converted into the domestic terminal. Photo: Kenya Airports Authority (@Kenya_Airports).

President Uhuru Kenyatta (second from right) talks with passengers at the JKIA Cargo Terminal which has now been converted into the domestic terminal. Photo: Kenya Airports Authority (@Kenya_Airports).

“We can now confirm that there was no element of a terror incident in this fire. There is no evidence of an explosion or an improvised explosive device,” said President Uhuru when he visited the airport today, “this was a simple fire gone bad.”

Investigators from Kenya, the United States, Israel and possibly other countries are already sifting through the site searching for clues on the exact cause of the fire.

There have also been reports that the initial response of the airport’s emergency services was less than optimal. “If anyone is culpable, including for gross negligence, they will be dealt with by the full force of the law,” said President Uhuru.

On plans to smoothen airport operations, the president announced the putting up of a temporary terminal in coming weeks. The temporary facility will have a capacity of 2.5 million passengers annually.

Once the new temporary terminal is up and running, the government will do a complete overhaul of the buildings damaged by fire. “We do not intend to do patch work to use the area. We intend to do a full refurbishment of Terminals 1, 2 and 3,” said the president.

In addition, construction work on Terminal 4 – which was to be completed in March 2014 – will be hastened so that it can be ready for use by end of 2013.

As part of the review of security after Wednesday’s fire, President Uhuru has ordered that all security agencies at JKIA come under the command of a single senior officer.

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