Kenyan clerics have vowed to prevent sectarian violence following the weekend’s deadly attacks on churches, despite assurances from officials that the strikes were not religiously motivated.
The Inter-Religious Council of Kenya said on Tuesday that Muslims will form vigilante groups alongside Christians to guard churches in Kenya's North Eastern Province, where the latest attacks occurred.
Adan Wachu, the secretary general of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims and the chairman of Inter-Religious Council, said the weekend attacks are part of a plot to spark sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims.
Wachu said clerics will advise against retaliation to prevent violence from spreading in the East African country.
At least 17 people were killed and more than 40 others injured in grenade attacks that targeted two churches in the northern city of Garissa on Sunday.
On Monday, Kenyan officials assured the public and the international community of their safety, saying the government is in full control of the security.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka dismissed Western media reports that there is a religious war in Kenya.
“This is not a religious matter. This is not a war between Muslims and Christians. This is a group of terrorists," Odinga reiterated.
Recent outbreaks of violence and terrorist attacks in Kenya have been blamed on revenge-seeking militant groups from neighboring Somalia.
Kenya has beefed up security along its border with Somalia since it dispatched soldiers over its border into the conflict-plagued country last October to chase al-Shabab fighters.
Garissa, a largely Muslim town with a significant ethnic Somali population, hosts a major military base which has been used for dispatching ground forces to Somalia.