Kenya will use “deadly force” against suspected Islamist militants, President Uhuru Kenyatta said as he campaigned for re-election in Lamu, a region that has borne the brunt of militant violence.
In the latest attack, suspected members of Somalia’s al Shabaab took a senior government official and five other people hostage in Lamu last Thursday. Two people died in a rescue operation by Kenyan forces.
“We shall bury them. Fire must be met with fire,” Kenyatta said at a campaign rally, according to his press service.
“Our citizens are losing their lives. Our security forces are losing their lives. My principal secretary was wounded here a few days ago … I have no apologies to make in taking the tough measures we are taking,” he said.
Kenyatta is facing a stiff challenge from opposition leader Raila Odinga. High food prices worry most voters more than militant attacks, but security could be an issue for voters in remote regions bordering Somalia.
Last week, the Kenya military said it conducted air strikes on Lamu’s Boni forest after a string of attacks blamed on militants in the area.
Al Shabaab is fighting to topple Somalia’s Western-backed government and establish its own rule, based on the group’s strict interpretation of sharia law. Its members frequently launch attacks in Kenya, which they say are intended to force the country to withdraw its troops from Somalia.