Despite attacks, Kenya will not withdraw from Somalia

By Yassin Juma, Monday, May 05, 2014

Ruto urged the judiciary to take firm action, saying many bailed suspects had carried out attacks

Ruto urged the judiciary to take firm action, saying many bailed suspects had carried out attacks

NAIROBI – Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto insisted on Monday that the East African country would not be intimidated by terrorists and would not withdraw troops from neighboring Somalia.

"The government will not allow terrorists to dictate or blackmail us into changing our local or foreign policy," Ruto told a press conference outside his Nairobi office.

"We will not withdraw until Somalia has a stable and secure government, free from terror," he added after chairing a meeting with top security chiefs.

Ruto's assertions came one day after twin blasts in capital Nairobi killed three and injured more than eighty others.

On Saturday night, another explosion in the coastal city of Mombasa killed four and wounded at least 13.

Following the attacks, Kenya's main opposition party, the Orange Democratic Movement, called for pulling Kenyan troops from violence-prone Somalia.

Ruto, however, who is currently in charge as President Uhuru Kenyatta is away on a state visit to Nigeria, warned that such a move would allow criminals to recruit and arm terrorists in Somalia and pose an even greater threat to Kenya and the region.

"Because of the remarkable success of our effort in Somalia, Al-Shabaab's operational bases have been substantially weakened," he said.

"The attacks we are witnessing now are the kicks of a dying horse. This is a desperate group on the run," the deputy president added.

The East African nation has experienced a spate of attacks since sending troops to troubled Somalia in 2011.

Somalia's Al-Shabaab militant group has repeatedly threatened to launch attacks on Kenyan soil as long as Kenyan troops remain on the ground in Somalia.

-Judicial problem-

Ruto urged the judiciary to take firm action in the war against terrorism, saying many bailed terror suspects had later carried out fresh attacks inside Kenya.

"While they are abroad, the cases against them cannot proceed, seriously impairing the quest for justice and law enforcement," he lamented.

Court records show that 22 terrorism suspects are currently out on bail and operating freely.

Among the suspects named by the government is Fuad Abubakar Maswab, who reportedly fled to Somalia after paying bail set at $116,000, and U.K. national Jermaine John Grant, arrested while in possession of explosives.

Two other suspects out on bail, Jamal Mohamed Awadh and Suleiman Mohammed Sayyed, were both killed on May 3 while reportedly carrying out a bomb attack in Mombasa.

The government claims to have thwarted numerous terrorist plots, attributing recent attacks to Kenyan members of Al-Shabab and a local cell known as "Al-Hijra."

Ruto called on Kenyans to be vigilant and to provide information to security agencies about suspicious activities.

"Our collective security is a shared responsibility; every person must play his or her part in maintaining unwavering vigilance," he said.

"All arms of government must play their full part and every citizen must also fulfill their patriotic obligations," the deputy president added.

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