Kenyatta says politics not insurgents behind attacks
MPEKETONI, Kenya, June 17, (RTRS): Somali-linked Islamist militants killed at least 15 people and torched houses in a second night of attacks on Kenya’s coast. Kenya’s president shifted blame to domestic rivals on Tuesday for two attacks that killed 65 people on the coast and he dismissed claims of responsibility by Somali Islamist militants, which Nairobi usually fingers for such assaults. Armed men went door to door hours before dawn in Poromoko village, ordered people outside and made them recite the Islamic creed, said one witness. He did not see what happened to anyone who failed.
Somalia’s al Shabaab militants claimed responsibility for the two days of attacks and said it would continue its campaign in the east African nation, whose tourist industry has been battered by a rise in militant violence. The militant group has said it is punishing Kenya for sending troops to Somalia to confront its Islamist fighters. Sunday’s assault on the town of Mpeketoni was the worst since al Shabaab gunmen stormed Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall in September, leaving 67 dead.
The new attacks have fuelled mounting public criticism of the government for failing to do more to prevent a string of grenade and gun attacks on the coast and the capital since Westgate. Al Shabaab on Monday declared Kenya a “war zone”, telling tourists to leave the country or stay “at their own peril”. Kenya has said it would not withdraw its forces from Somalia and has promised to track down the gunmen. “These attacks are unfortunate and the perpetrators must be held accountable,” Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku told residents in Mpeketoni, where he was jeered by locals.
The minister said 15 had died in Tuesday’s assault. “This government is full of talk and no action,” said one angry resident in Mpeketoni, speaking as the minister arrived in the town. “They keep saying the country is safe, and we keep on suffering in the hands of terrorists.” Al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, said the group’s gunmen had killed as many as 20 people in the latest assault, including police men. “Our operations in Kenya will continue,” he told Reuters. Omar Awadh Salim, a 48-year-old father of two, said masked men in military fatigues broke into his house and other properties in Poromoko just after 1:00 am. on Tuesday.