Kenya’s president said Tuesday that lethal assaults over the past two days that left an estimated 65 people dead were the work of “local political networks,” and were not carried out by the Shabab, a Somali extremist group that has claimed responsibility for the violence.
“The attack in Lamu was well planned, orchestrated and politically motivated ethnic violence against the Kenyan community,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said, addressing the nation and referring to the county targeted by the violence.
“This, therefore, was not an al Shabab terrorist attack. Evidence indicates local political networks were involved in the planning and execution of the heinous crime,” he said. “This also played into the opportunist network of other criminal gangs.”
He said police officers who had been unable to prevent the attacks had been suspended and would be immediately charged in court.
Some analysts questioned whether the attempt by Mr. Kenyatta to shift the blame from the Shabab was a ploy to deflect attention from the government’s failure to protect civilians from the spate of violence. Others saw the president’s words as a reaction to mounting criticism by the main opposition party, which has forcefully rebuked the government for its seeming weakness in the face of attacks claimed to have been orchestrated by the Islamic militant group based in neighboring Somalia.
Militants killed at least 15 people people on Kenya’s coast overnight, a day after they conducted a nighttime raid on the coast that left at least 48 people dead, news services reported.
SOURCE: ISMA’IL KUSHKUSH and DAN BILEFSKY
The New York Times