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Why does Al Shabaab target Kenya?

07 April 2015, 09:47

Nairobi - Al Shabaab, a Somali militant group, has claimed responsibility for the brutal attack on the Garissa University College in Kenya. Death toll from the raid has risen to 148, making it the worst attack on Kenyan soil so far.

Why does Al Shabaab target Kenya, again? Let's take a glimpse back at the key breaking point not so far in the past, an excuse which the Somali militant group has been using to justify its attacks.

In 2011, abductions of foreign tourists in Kenya's northern tourist resorts blamed on Somali militants threatened Kenya's tourism, which accounts for some 12 percent of the overall economy.

The Kenyan government then sent its soldiers into Somalia to combat the insurgents, with an aim to protect its tourist destinations from attacks by Somali gangs taking advantage of its long and porous border with Somalia.

Over the past few years, Kenya troops joined an African Union force known as AMISOM to expel Al Shabaab fighters from major cities and towns of Somalia.

In the due course, Al Shabaab, which cannot confront African troops backed by foreign firepower on the battlefields, retreated and dispersed into rural areas.

At the same time, however, it employed guerrilla tactics and staged numerous hit-and-run attacks in Somalia and Kenya, including the infamous 2013 attack against Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall.

The militant group, designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and Britain, has threatened not to relent its attacks against Kenya unless it withdraws troops from Somalia.

Al Shabaab's attacks on civilian targets in Kenya have prompted widespread condemnation from countries around the world as it is a universally accepted international norm that no excuse can justify the killing of innocent civilians.

Kenyan authorities have vowed not to budge in face of terrorists' threats.

With an international help, in particular after the Westgate attack, Kenya has strengthened security measures, including boosting security expenditures, recruiting more police officers and tightening security laws.

Analysts say Kenya suffers chronic pains like ethnic and religious divisions, youth radicalization and poverty, which have served as a breeding ground for terrorist activities inside Kenya.

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- Xinhua


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