Kenya: Interior minister suspends 9 security chiefs over al-Shabab attack that left 148 dead

Nine security chiefs in the eastern town of Garissa have been suspended during a probe to determine if they failed to stop an extremist attack earlier this month in which 148 people died, Kenya’s interior minister has said.

A thorough investigation is needed to determine if the individual officers are criminally culpable, Joseph Nkaissery said in statement released Tuesday.

Nkaissery and the Police Inspector General Joseph Boinnet have come under heavy criticism for flying to Garissa University College, the scene of the April 2 attack, instead giving that helicopter to members of the police tactical team that ended the siege hours later.

Kenyans are demanding answers on why it took the Recce Company, a police tactical unit specializing close-quarter combat, about seven hours to be deployed to fight the four gunmen who had attacked the school. It took about half an hour for the Recce Company to kill the four gunmen after soldiers from a nearby military base and local police officers failed to do so for 12 hours.

The officer in charge of the police airwing is being probed to determine whether a decision to fly his daughter-in-law and two children from the coastal town of Mombasa to Nairobi hindered the deployment of the Recce Company.

Al-Shabab extremists from Somalia claimed responsibility for the university attack. Al-Shabab has vowed to carry out attacks on Kenya for deploying troops to fight the extremist group.