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Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta says al Shabaab militants are not to blame for two attacks that killed 64 people, despite the terror group claiming responsibility for the raids.
The Somalia-based group claimed its gunmen carried out the attacks in the town of Mpeketoni on Sunday night and at a nearby village early on Tuesday.
But Mr Kenyatta dismissed the claims, instead blaming unidentified “hate-mongers” for the violence.
“The attack in Lamu was well planned, orchestrated and politically motivated ethnic violence against the Kenyan community,” he said.
“This, therefore, was not an al Shabaab terrorist attack. Evidence indicates local political networks were involved in the planning and execution of the heinous crime.
“This also played into the opportunist network of other criminal gangs.”
Blaming domestic rivals could ease pressure on the Kenyan government, which has faced strong criticism about its handling of security in recent months.
In Sunday’s attack, gunmen stormed Mpeketoni, which lies near the popular tourist attraction of Lamu town, and killed 49 people.
Some 24 hours later, gunmen raided nearby Poromoko village, going through the town and ordering residents to recite an Islamic creed, according to witnesses.
Al Shabaab military operations spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab threatened the onslaught would continue and said: “We raided villages around Mpeketoni again last night.
Our operations in Kenya will continue.”
Interior cabinet secretary Joseph Ole Lenku described the attacks as “unfortunate”, adding that the perpetrators must be held accountable.
Al Shabaab, an al Qaeda-linked group which carried out an attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi last year, said the first attack was a revenge for attacks inside Somalia by Kenyan forces.
Foreign tourists have been warned to stay out of Kenya.
Lamu had previously been popular with foreign visitors, but tourism has been suffering in recent years because of increasing violence.