NAIROBI, Kenya – Faced with rising public anger over a wave terror attacks, Kenya's deputy president appeared on Monday to blame the attacks on judges who have given bail to terror suspects.
William Ruto said that terror suspects Jamal Mohammed Awadh and Suleiman Mohammed Sayyed were free on bail and died Saturday while carrying out attacks on the Kenyan coast.
However, the families of the two men deny the two were involved or had been charged earlier.
Ruto claimed 22 other suspects accused of terrorism are out on bail and roaming freely in the country. He also cited the case of Fuad Abubakar Maswab, who is believed to have fled to Somalia while out on $116,000 bail.
Fuad, along with two British citizens, is accused of planning attacks over Christmas and New Year's in 2011. One British suspect, Jermaine Grant, who has been remanded while his case is being heard, was found with explosives, Ruto said. The other British suspect, Samantha Lewthwaite, is still at large.
"We call on the judiciary to be a strong partner in the war against terror. We call on all players in the justice, law and order sector to stand with Kenyans. The Constitution provides a robust framework of civil liberties, which all Kenyans are meant to enjoy. The liberties must work for Kenyans, not against Kenyans," he said.
"We believe that there is more that the judiciary can do," Ruto said.
The families of Awadh and Sayyed held a press conference Monday in the coastal city of Mombasa where they said they were victims of Saturday's blast at a bus stop.
"We demand the state to apologize for profiling innocent people," said Sayyed's mother, Leila Athufa.
The director of the rights group Haki Africa Hussein Khalid said the two men were working at the bus stop where the explosion took place and court records did not indicate they had been arrested or charged.
Kenyans expressed outrage over the attacks on social media. On Twitter thousands vented their fears, frustration and anger over the attacks and the fact that President Uhuru Kenyatta is in Nigeria on a state visit.
Kenya has suffered a string of terror attacks since it sent troops to Somalia in 2011. The latest came on Saturday — two blasts on Kenya's coast that killed four — and Sunday, when bombs went off on two public buses, killing three.
Kenya has arrested thousands of suspects in recent weeks, mainly ethnic Somalis, in reaction to the attacks.
The security sweep has been heavily criticized by human rights groups who say officials have carried out abuses and are profiling Somalis. Police say the operation is aimed at weeding out terrorists and illegal aliens blamed for smuggling small arms and other weapons into Kenya through its porous borders.