Kenyan security on high alert ahead of Obama visit

Why Obama's Kenya Visit May Be His Most Dangerous Yet

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A massive security operation is in place to protect President Barack Obama during his visit to Kenya, which has been frequently targeted by al-Shabab militants based in neighboring Somalia.

Ahead of Obama's arrival Friday evening, large numbers of security forces patrolled in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Several U.S. military aircraft were spotted flying around the city. There have also been significant military attacks on Islamic militant targets in Somalia in recent weeks.

Kenya preps for Obama's arrival:

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Kenyans prepare for Obama's visit
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Kenyan security on high alert ahead of Obama visit
Solomon Murimia, a 'matatu' minibus driver, gestures as he calls on clients beside his minibus with a painting depicting US President Barack Obama on a July 22, 2015 in Nairobi. Obama will make a first presidential pilgrimage to his father's homeland of Kenya later this month, the capstone of a weeklong overture to Africa taking in three key nations. AFP PHOTO / SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
An man rides a bicycle and a trailer with messages reading 'welcome Kenya Obama' in Nairobi on July 23, 2015, on the eve of the US President's visit. On the eve of his trip to Africa, US President Barack Obama said he was excited about the impending visit to his ancestral continent, which he said had great resilience and enormous potential for growth. AFP PHOTO / TONY KARUMBA (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)
People read local newspapers with pictures of US President Barack Obama and with headlines 'Welcome Obama' on July 24, 2015 in Nairobi. US President Obama arrives in his ancestral homeland Kenya later today, with a massive security operation under way to protect him from Al-Qaeda-linked Somali militants. AFP PHOTO / SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
A banner bearing the likeness of the President of the United States, Barack Obama and bearing a 'welcome' message hangs over the arrival lounge of the Kenya's Jomo Kenyatta airport in Nairobi on July 23, 2015 less than 48 hours ahead of Obama's expected arrival. US President Barack Obama arrives in his ancestral homeland Kenya late on July 24, 2015, with a massive security operation underway to protect him from Al-Qaeda-linked Somali militants. Obama, making his first visit as president to his father's birthplace, will address an entrepreneurship summit and hold talks on trade and investment, security and counter-terrorism, and democracy and human rights. AFP PHOTO/Tony KARUMBA (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)
Kenyan vendor Hosea displays his t-shirts with a depiction of US President Barack Obama at the Kogelo market on July 13, 2015 in Kisumu. Excitement is growing in Kenya ahead of Barack Obama's first visit to his father's homeland since becoming president. Anticipation ahead of the late July trip is nowhere greater than in Kogelo, 'a sleepy village' that was 'put on the world map' by its association with the US president, according to his uncle Said Obama. AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman buys glasses next to a shop selling t-shirts with a depiction of US President Barack Obama at the Kogelo market on July 13, 2015 in Kisumu. Excitement is growing in Kenya ahead of Barack Obama's first visit to his father's homeland since becoming president. Anticipation ahead of the late July trip is nowhere greater than in Kogelo, 'a sleepy village' that was 'put on the world map' by its association with the US president, according to his uncle Said Obama. AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
A man looks at local newspapers bearing headlines on US President Barack Obama's upcoming visit to Kenya on July 17, 2015 in Nairobi. Obama is due to visit Ethiopia later this month as well as Kenya, where his father was born. AFP PHOTO / SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
A Maasai woman looks at hawkers selling a poster of US President Barrack Obama and the words written in the Luo language, 'Nonro Mar Obama' meaning 'Arrangements for Obama visit ' to motorists during the Luo cultural festival, on July 11, 2015, in Nairobi. The Luo festival which is the tribe that Obama's family belongs to, comes weeks ahead of US President Barrack Obama's visit to Kenya. President Obama's visit, is his first visit to his father's homeland since becoming the president of the USA. AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
A man reads next to newspapers bearing headlines on US President Barack Obama's upcoming visit to Kenya on July 17, 2015 in Nairobi. Obama is due to visit Ethiopia later this month as well as Kenya, where his father was born. AFP PHOTO / SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Kenyan Said Obama, Kogelo-born, raised and current resident and uncle to United State's President Barack Obama, gestures during an interview in Kisumu on July 13, 2015. The Kenyan Obamas are related to the US president through his Kenyan-born father, Barack Hussein Obama Senior, who died in 1982. Excitement is growing in Kenya ahead of Barack Obama's first visit to his father's homeland since becoming president. Anticipation ahead of the late July trip is nowhere greater than in Kogelo, 'a sleepy village' that Said says was 'put on the world map' by its association with the US president.AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman walks past Kenyan hawker selling posters and T-shirts with the image of US President Barrack Obama and the words written in the Luo language, 'Nonro Mar Obama' meaning 'Arrangements for Obama visit ' to motorists during the Luo cultural festival, on July 11, 2015, in Nairobi. The Luo festival which is the tribe that Obama's family belongs to, comes weeks ahead of US President Barrack Obama's visit to Kenya. President Obama's visit, is his first visit to his father's homeland since becoming the president of the USA. AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Pupils of Senator Obama Kogelo primary school head home after classes in Kogelo on July 13, 2015. The school was renamed after the US President Barack Obama's visit in 2006 to Kenya when he was a state senator. The Kenyan Obamas are related to the US president through his Kenyan-born father, Barack Hussein Obama Senior, who died in 1982. Excitement is growing in Kenya ahead of Barack Obama's first visit to his father's homeland since becoming president. Anticipation ahead of the late July trip is nowhere greater than in Kogelo, 'a sleepy village' that was 'put on the world map' by its association with the US president, according to his uncle Said Obama. AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
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Major Nairobi roads will be temporarily closed and authorities said the international airport will be closed at times coinciding with Obama's landing and departure Sunday for Ethiopia. Safaricom, a mobile network operator, warned of disruptions while Obama is in Nairobi to meet entrepreneurs and hold talks with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

"We recognize the fact that as the most protected individual in the world, there will be some security measures undertaken by his team which could include the temporary disruption of mobile signals close to where the President is at any given time," Safaricom said.

Al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaida, has conducted major attacks in Kenya, including the 2013 attack on Nairobi's Westgate mall and an April attack in Garissa town that killed nearly 150 people.

This month, Somali officials said African Union and local troops seized Bardhere, one of the last major towns held by extremists in Somalia's southwest. A militant commander was also killed in a U.S. drone strike, according to Somali and U.S. officials.

A Somali intelligence official told The Associated Press that the use of surveillance drones has increased in the past two weeks.

"They are watching militants' movements towards Kenya so closely," said the official, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

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Associated Press writer Abdi Guled contributed to this report from Mogadishu, Somalia.

More on Obama's visit to Kenya:
Obama visits Kenya: A look back on reactions to his ancestry
Obama may snub father's hometown and family on Kenya visit

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