Kenya Tourism Board Addresses Recent Violence; Tourist Sites Unaffected

lamu, kenyaViolent attacks in Kenya over the past two days reportedly left an estimated 65 people dead. According to the New York Times, militants killed at least 15 people people on Kenya’s coast overnight, a day after they conducted a nighttime raid on the coast that left at least 48 people dead.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta blamed the assaults on “local political networks,” and denied that they were carried out by the Shabab, a Somali extremist group that has claimed responsibility for the violence.

“The attack in Lamu [mainland] was well planned, orchestrated and politically motivated ethnic violence against the Kenyan community,” President said in an address to the nation. “This, therefore, was not an al Shabab terrorist attack. Evidence indicates local political networks were involved in the planning and execution of the heinous crime,” he said. “This also played into the opportunist network of other criminal gangs.”

He said police officers who had been unable to prevent the attacks had been suspended and would be immediately charged in court.

In a statement, the Kenya Tourism Board said that the raiders are believed to have invaded a police station before they attacked various business premises in the area. "This incident comes at the backdrop of heightened measures to enhance security throughout the country with the President currently leading a campaign that is asking all Kenyans to be vigilant as well as warning those perpetrating crime of the consequences," the statement continued. 

The Tourism Board also claimed that Lamu Island, one of Kenya's primary tourist resorts, was "in no way" affected by the assault, and that the Kenyan coastline was also unaffected. "The majority of visitors traveling to Lamu arrive by air into the local airport," the statement noted. "All tourist activity continues as normal throughout the country with holiday-makers visiting the country for safari circuits and the popular coastal resorts of Diani, Malindi, Watamu, Kilifi and Lamu among others...We wish to give the Kenya Tourism Board's assurance that the Government considers the security of tourists and Kenyans alike to be of paramount importance."