By Andrew Wasike
NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) - The U.K. announced on Thursday that it was sponsoring a $600,000 anti-terrorism center on the Kenyan coast.
"The U.K. is very proud to sponsor the new building of the ATPU [Anti-Terror Police Unit] here in Mombasa," British High Commissioner to Kenya Nic Hailey said just a day after a British man was found guilty of possessing explosive-making materials by a Kenyan court.
"We have seen, tragically, in the recent months and years the effects of terrorism menaces. It has struck us in UK it has struck us here in Kenya and recently in Sri Lanka," Hailey said, noting that the center was planned to be completed by the end of the year.
Speaking to journalists at the ground-breaking ceremony, Hailey said fighting terrorism and boosting security in East Africa was a priority for the U.K. as well as the region facing numerous attacks from the Somali-based al-Qaeda affiliated al-Shabaab militant group.
Kenya’s Mombasa county has witnessed a spate of attacks by al-Shabaab militants who cross over into Kenya through the porous Kenya-Somali border.
The area is also seen as a recruiting ground for al-Shabaab militants by Kenyan authorities due to its close proximity to Somalia.
British national Jermaine Grant was found guilty on Wednesday by a Kenyan court for abetting terrorism after being convicted for possession of bomb-making ingredients.
He was arrested in Kenya in December 2011 at the house of Samantha Louise Lewthwaite, also known as the White Widow, who is among the world's most wanted terror suspects.
Chief Magistrate Evans Makori while delivering his judgement said Grant's intention "without a doubt" was to cause a deadly terror attack in the country.