Kenya president blames ‘local political networks’ for attacks
NAIROBI: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday blamed “local political networks” for the killings of dozens of people in two attacks in the coastal region that have been claimed by Somalia’s Shabab militants.
“The attack in Lamu was well-planned, orchestrated and politically-motivated ethnic violence against a Kenyan community with the intention of profiling and evicting them for political reasons,” he said in a televised address to the nation.
“This therefore was not an Al-Shabab attack. Evidence indicates that local political networks were involved in the planning and execution of a heinous crime,” he said.
“This also played into the opportunist network of other criminal gangs,” he added, without identifying the local groups he said were responsible.
The president also said that intelligence on the Mpeketoni attack had been made available to local security officers but that “unfortunately, the officers did not act.”
“Accordingly, all concerned officers have been suspended and will be charged immediately in a court of law,” he added.
His comments came even though the Shabab said they were responsible for Sunday night’s attack on the town of Mpeketoni, in which around 50 people were killed, and Monday night’s attack on a nearby village that left 15 dead.
The Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group said the attacks were further retaliation for Kenya’s military presence in Somalia as well as the Kenyan government’s “brutal oppression” of Muslims.
“It was our commandos who were taking care of things over the last two days in the Lamu area, and they will continue to do so,” a Shabab official told AFP by telephone after Kenyatta’s speech.
“We are fighting there because Kenyan troops are in our country and occupying parts if our nation.”
The Shabab had also claimed responsibility for last September’s siege of the Westgate shopping mall in the capital Nairobi, in which 67 people were killed.