17 June 2014

Kenya: No Time to Ponder Terror in Kenya

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

At least 15 people have been killed in a fresh attack carried out along Kenya's coast. While Somalia's al-Shabab group claimed responsibility, Kenya's president says the attacks were home-grown.

Kenyan security forces on Tuesday (17.06.2014) confirmed that at least 15 people have been killed in Pormoko village, not far from Mpeketoni town along the Kenyan coast. The attacks happened just a day after gunmen entered Mpeketoni on Sunday night and killed at least 49 of its residents. 50 more people are still missing.

While the Somali-based terrorist group al-Shabab said that they were behind the attacks, President Uhuru Kenyatta told Kenyans that the evidence pointed to local political factions. "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," Kenyatta insisted in a televized speech.

On Monday al-Shabab had claimed responsibility, claiming that these were revenge attacks for the "brutal oppression of Muslims by the Kenyan government". Security forces have until now been unable to arrest any of the attackers.

Government reactions

After the second nightly attack, Kenya's government is under increasing pressure to act. The Law Society of Kenya called for the resignation of the head of police, David Kimaiyo and the Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku. Lenku visited the scene of the massacre in Mpeketoni on Tuesday. He condemned the killings and told residents that the attackers would be held accountable. He also promised to beef up security throughout the country.

The massacre in Mpeketoni and the attacks in Poromoko are the most recent in a row of attacks carried out on Kenyan soil and under the watch of Interior Minister Ole Lenku. Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for various attacks along the Kenyan coast and in the country's capital Nairobi. In September 2013, al-Shabab attacked Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi and killed 67 people. The attacks have largely been seen as a revenge by al-Shabab, to Kenya's fight against al-Shabab in neighboring Somalia.

Witnesses said the attackers went from door to door and targeted non-muslim residents.

Losing a valuable source of income

Speaking to DW, Brian Singoro Wanyama, a Kenyan political analyst said these new attacks paint a very bleak picture for the future of Kenya's tourism sector. "The repeated attacks, especially those at the coast, will definitively have a negative impact on tourism, which has been a corner stone and backbone of Kenya's economy," Wanyama said.

What started off as isolated incidents has turned into more regular attacks. Wanyama believes that the only thing that can put peoples' minds at ease, is the government taking the matter seriously and beefing up security in the country.

"I would encourage the government of Kenya to get back on good terms with the USA, Great Britain and Israel," the analyst told DW. What Kenya needs now, says Wanyama, is the support from countries that have the expertise to fight terrorism.

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