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Obama's grandmother gets beefed up security in Kenya

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Obama's grandmother gets beefed up security in Kenya

Concerns for step-grandmother's safety increase after killing of bin Laden

  • President Barack Obama
    Barack Obama/FlickrPresident Barack Obama

Kenya tightened its security around President Barack Obama's step-grandmother after the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces put the country on alert.

"In the wake of security challenges including terror threats, I can confirm that we decided to enhance security at the home of Mama Sarah," regional administrator Francis Mutie told AFP, using the popular name for Obama's step-grandmother.

"All visitors going to the home will have to be thoroughly vetted. They will undergo security screening before they are cleared to visit the home."

Sarah Obama, who lives in a village called Kogelo in western Kenya, will also be given an escort, he said.

U.S. forces under the direction of President Obama killed the al-Qaeda leader on May 2 in Pakistan, and militant groups have since vowed to avenge the killing.

There were conflicting reports of whether the Obama family has received direct threats.

AFP reported that there were no direct threats against the family. However, the Telegraph and other news organizations reported that the enhanced security for Sarah Obama comes after a specific threat from Al Shabaab, a group of Somali Islamists linked to al-Qaeda.

"We received reports of plans to attack the home of Mama Sarah Obama, and we immediately put in place security measures," local police chief Stephen Cheteka told Africa Review.

Kenyan police told ABC News they are now patrolling around the clock. One police chief said he had enough officers "to patrol the entire village."

Sarah Obama is the third wife of Barack Obama's paternal grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama. The American president often refers to her as his grandmother.

She is believed to have been born in 1922 and is a non-practicing Muslim.

The Shabaab insurgents announced Wednesday that they will avenge bin Laden's death "very soon."

"We are sending a message to [Barack] Obama and [Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton that we will avenge the death of our leader Sheikh Osama bin Laden very soon," U.S.-born Omar Hamami told AFP.

"Osama is dead but the holy war is not dead. Mujahedeen fighters all over the world are fully prepared to revenge the death of our leader."

The home of the elderly Obama has been guarded since Barack Obama won the U.S. presidency in 2008.

Sarah Obama told ABC News she did not mind the enhanced security.

"My life has not been affected in any way," she said. "It has not restricted my movement. If the government has decided to bring more security personnel, we are OK with it."

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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