The Dreaded Anti Terror Police Unit Roles, Joining The Unit And Training 

Anti-Terror Police Unit (ATPU) was created within the Directorate of Criminal Investigations Department in 2003 in response to the attacks on the United States of America Embassy in Nairobi in 1998 and Israeli-owned Mombasa hotel in 2002. It is mandated to mitigate and investigate terrorism related cases in the country.  

Terrorists attacks had increased in Kenya, particularly after Kenya sent its military to neighboring Somali in October 2011. The attacks that will forever be etched in Kenyans psyche include: the Westgate Shopping Mall attack and the Garissa University College attack. The escalation of such events forced the security mandarins to come up with counter measures and that’s how ATPU was birthed. 

Roles of ATPU

The roles of ATPU include:

  • To prevent, disrupt and interdict terrorist activities in the country
  • To investigate all terrorism related cases
  • To lead other agencies at all scenes of terrorism related incidences
  • To create profiles for suspected terrorists and keep an updated databank
  • To share intelligence with other stakeholders
  • To review and monitor security of vital installations and soft targets
  • To sensitize the public on terrorism awareness 

How to Join

The ATPU is part of the DCI and the key requirements to be a part of them include:

  • Possessing certain specific skills including demonstrating professional maturity, integrity and attention to details.
  • Demonstrate ability to apply logical reasoning, maintain objectivity and possess the ability to independently analyze complex situations.

Other factors will include mental health and physical health. 

The Dreaded Anti Terror Police Unit Roles, Joining The Unit And Training 
ATPU IMage/Courtesy


ATPU officers undergo specialized training in Kenya and internationally. They are trained in close quarter battles for counter terrorism and hostage rescue operations. The training is very intense and requires one to be very strong both mentally and physically. The training includes:

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  • Firing practice/ advanced marksmanship training. Any police officer is trained to shoot well and with accuracy. Since the ATPU are supposed to deal with terrorists, they have to learn how to use all types of weapons and to shoot with complete accuracy. They can’t just shoot anyhow as a single shot may be the difference between life and death. Apart from advanced marksmanship, they also train in counterinsurgency, urban operations, live fire maneuvers, sensitive site exploitation and other special forces skills. 


  • Close quarter combat. ATPU deals with terrorists who are often in close quarters. Therefore, they need to learn how to fight in close quarters. 


  • Land navigation 


  • Advanced Special Operations technique and interagency operations. They take part in survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape exercises. 


  • Vigorous and intense physical exercises.