17 June 2014

Kenya: President Blames 'Local Political Networks' and Gangs for Deadly Attacks

Photo: Mombasa County Govt
Mpeketoni Equity bank branch after it was torched by suspected Al Shabaab terrorists.

Kenya's president has said that Islamist militants from neighboring Somalia were not behind attacks that have killed dozens of people. This comes after al-Shabab militants claimed responsibility.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a nationally televised address on Tuesday that what he described as "local political networks" were to blame for attacks over the past two days, which killed dozens of people along Kenya's coast.

"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.

"This therefore was not an al-Shabab attack," he added. Evidence indicates that local political networks were involved in the planning and execution of a heinous crime." Kenyatta also said other "opportunistic" criminal gangs were involved.

However, the president didn't provide any evidence to back up his claim.

Al-Shabab Islamist militants based in neighboring Somalia have claimed responsibility for both Sunday night's attack on the town of Mpeketoni, which killed around 50 people - as well as an attack on a nearby village 24 hours later, which killed around 15.

Mpeketoni is located near the popular tourist resort of Lamu.

Al-Shabab has vowed to continue carrying out attacks in revenge for Kenya's military presence in Somalia. The militant group also claimed responsibility for last September's siege of the Westgate shopping mall in the capital, Nairobi, in which 67 people were killed.

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InFocus

Attacks 'Not Terrorism' - Kenya President

Mpeketoni Equity bank branch after it was torched by suspected Al Shabaab terrorists.

Authorities in Lamu were notified of impending politically motivated attacks but failed to act, President Uhuru Kenyatta has revealed, as he vowed tough action. Read more »