NAIROBI, Kenya – Kenya’s president blamed political leaders inside Kenya on Tuesday for carrying out two nights of deadly attacks that killed at least 60 people in coastal communities, saying that despite claims of responsibility from al-Shabab, the Islamic extremists were not behind it.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, in a nationally televised address, said evidence indicates that local political leaders inside Kenya were behind what he termed ethnically motivated violence. The Somali militant group al-Shabab had claimed responsibility for two nights of attacks near the tourist resort island of Lamu that targeted non-Muslims.
The newer attack came Monday night in Majembeni village, where 10 people died. The village is next to Mpeketoni, where four dozen Christian men were slaughtered Sunday night and Monday morning.
Al-Shabab said the second attack killed government workers and Christians. A county commissioner, Benson Maisori, said the attackers appear to have been the same in both cases.
The style of killing is the same. They slit the victims’ throats wide open or shot them several times in the head, Maisori said.
But in a surprising turn of events, Kenyatta said outright that al-Shabab did not plan and execute the attack, but rather local leaders did. He did not get more specific.
Kenyatta said police officials in Mpeketoni had advance intelligence about the attack but did not act on it. The president said some officers have been suspended and will be prosecuted.
Kenyatta said that some political leaders are preaching the idea that some Kenyans are less human than others.
My deputy and I will never go the route of ethnic violence, Kenyatta said.
The back-to-back attacks underscore the weak security around the Lamu area, which lies just south of the Somali border. Lamu once attracted swarms of foreign visitors, but its tourist sector has been suffering in recent years because of the violence.