NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has nominated a new intelligence chief with experience in the war on al Qaeda-linked insurgents in neighbouring Somalia to stop a spate of attacks in Kenya blamed on Islamist militants.
Kenyatta said he chose Major-General Philip Kameru for his success in intelligence-gathering in Somalia, where Kenyan soldiers are fighting al Shabaab insurgents as part of an African Union peacekeeping force.
The East African nation has suffered a string of gun and grenade attacks in the past several months, including an assault on the upscale Westgate shopping mall in the capital Nairobi last September in which at least 67 people were killed.
Al Shabaab claimed the raid, saying it was part of a campaign of attacks to punish Kenya for sending its troops into Somalia. Kenyan troops begun their push against al Shabaab in October 2011, after the militants carried out raids in Kenya.
Kenyatta said in a statement that Kameru has “extensive experience in operational and administrative matters. He has also undergone rigorous training both in Kenya and abroad”.
Kameru has masters degrees in natural resources management, international studies and security management, Kenyatta said.
Under Kenyan law, Kameru will be confirmed in the position if he passes a vetting process by parliament.
He would replace retired Major-General Michael Gichangi, who resigned last Thursday after drawing criticism for failing to prevent attacks blamed on al Shabaab.
Kenyan security bosses have been severely criticised for failing to stop the attackers of the Westgate mall.
The criticism grew after a mid-June attack in the coastal town of Mpeketoni, in which at least 50 people were killed. Kenyatta said intelligence on the impending attack was available but it had not been acted on.
Kenya’s tourism industry, a top foreign exchange earner, has slumped badly because of the deadly attacks. Some Western nations warned their citizens against travel to parts of Kenya, including coastal resorts, prompting multiple cancellations.