Kenya’s President cancels Angola visit to condole with Mandera attack victims’ families

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Inter-faith prayers ceremony for Westgate shopping mall victims

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit to Angola was cancelled following the deadly attack in a guesthouse that left at least 12 dead in a north-eastern Kenyan town Mandera on Tuesday.

Manoah Esipisu, the State House spokesman said in a statement that the President called off the visit to attend a security summit “in solidarity with the families who have lost their loved ones and those injured, whom he wishes a speedy recovery.”

Somalia-based Islamist group Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility of the attack, which targeted a guesthouse in the border town of Mandera in the early hours of Tuesday.

“The president condemns in the strongest terms this heinous attack by these depraved individuals,” the statement said.

“Kenyans will not allow themselves to be divided along religious lines, which is what the terrorists want,” it said.

Earlier this month, an attack on a residential plot in Mandera town, which is near the Somali border, killed six people. It is said militants targeted non-Muslims in the two attacks.

North Eastern Regional Coordinator Mohamud Saleh has however ruled out direct involvement of Al-Shabaab militants in the early Tuesday attack, saying “inside elements radicalized by the Al-Shabaab” were behind the two attacks this month.

Saleh said the deceased included 11 men and a woman but added their bodies had not been identified.

Militants used improvised explosive devices to blow up a section of the hotel in the attack. Some occupants were buried in the debris of the building, which partly collapsed.

Police earlier said ten people had been pulled out of the rubble and that four injured people were in serious condition.

Saleh said a search and rescue operation as well as investigations were under way.

“Following the last attack at a residential plot where six people were killed, the border with Somalia has remained closed from dawn to dusk and there was no way the attackers could have crossed into countries,” he told journalists in Garissa.

Saleh revealed that five people had been arrested in connection with the residential plot attack, saying three of them were members of the Al-Shabaab Harakat intelligence wing.

Kenya has faced a threat from Al-Shabaab since it sent troops to Somalia to battle the militants in 2011, as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) force.

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