Kenya: Attacks meant to ignite sectarian violence

AP News
Posted: Apr 04, 2014 10:06 AM

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Recent terrorist attacks in Kenya, blamed on Somali-based Islamic militants, are meant to provoke a sectarian war but will not succeed in doing so, Kenya's president said Friday.

The war being fought is not a war of religions, or a clash of culture but a "fight against a small and vicious set of deluded criminals," Uhuru Kenyatta said, adding that terrorists will be dealt with ruthlessly, decisively and within the law.

While presiding over the graduation of 2,209 police recruits later Friday, Kenyatta gave people two weeks amnesty to surrender illegal weapons. A government report in 2012 said that 500,000 illegal guns were in the country and attributed the proliferation of small arms to porous borders with conflict-ridden neighboring countries.

Kenya has been hit by a wave of explosive and gun attacks mainly targeting Kenyans who are not Somali or Muslims. On Monday, police said three explosions in Somali enclave in Nairobi killed six people.

Last month gunmen attacked a church in the Kenya's coastal region killing six people days after police impounded a car bomb.

"As you all know, we are faced with a resurgent extremist movement. It has set out to divide us against ourselves," Kenyatta said. "By killing and maiming, it hopes to turn us against our brothers, and to destroy the nation we have labored so long to build...But we refuse to fall for its lies and low cunning."

Somali militant group al-Shabab has vowed to carry out terror attacks on Kenyan soil in retaliation for the presence of Kenyan troops in Somalia helping the government crush the insurgency. Kenya sent its troops into Somalia to fight al-Shabab in October 2011 following a series of cross-border attacks the Kenyan government blamed on the militants

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Kenyatta said the country's police force is the first line of defense against terrorism but their work has been hampered by years of under-investment in training and equipment. He said that will soon change with the availability of increased government funding to the force and the improvement of police forces' welfare, though he didn't give further details.