Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta replaced two of his top security chiefs after Islamist militants killed at least 64 people in the north of the country in the past two weeks in attacks that targeted non-Muslims.
Kenyatta nominated Joseph Ole Nkaissery, a lawmaker for the opposition Orange Democratic Movement, to succeed Interior Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku, he told reporters today at State House in the capital, Nairobi. He said he also accepted the retirement of Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo.
Al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda-linked insurgent group based in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the killing today of at least 36 people at a quarry in Mandera in northeastern Kenya, beheading two of them and sparing only Muslims. The massacre was near the site where al-Shabaab on Nov. 22 stopped a bus and ordered non-Muslims to lie face down before shooting 28 people dead. The group said the attacks are revenge for Kenya deploying troops in Somalia in 2011 to back the government.
“The obvious intent is to create hostility and suspicion across ethnic and religious lines and to drive non-Muslims from certain parts of this country,” Kenyatta said. “The ultimate aim of this atrocious campaign is to establish an extremist caliphate in this region.”
Kenyatta has faced growing criticism from opposition politicians and the public about his handling of the security situation in Kenya since al-Shabaab attackers raided the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi last year. At least 67 people died in that attack, in which the gunmen also singled out non-Muslims.