Kenyan authorities on Thursday warned of the rising threat of a terrorist attack after a group of nearly 200 al-Shabab militants broke ranks with al-Qaeda and pledge allegiance to IS.
"They have split, and as a result of the split, particularly those ones along ideological lines or religious lines are very keen to promote that competition by proving a point," police chief Joseph Boinnet told reporters Thursday.
"They plan to prove a point by staging attacks," Boinnet added.
Al-Shabab, which is allied to al-Qaeda, has been courted by the Iraq and Syria-based IS and its affiliates, which now include elements in Libya, Yemen, Egypt, West Africa and Afghanistan.
The rising popularity of IS and its ability to hold territory in Iraq and Syria has prompted several jihadist groups including Boko Haram in Nigeria to leave al-Qaeda and pledge allegiance to the IS brand.
Splits within the global jihadist movement have led to clashes between the al-Qaeda and IS affiliates as well as attempts to outdo each other with spectacular terror attacks.
Some factions within al-Shabab reportedly pledged allegiance to IS in October, after which al-Shabab's leadership ordered attacks and assassinations on people within its ranks with IS sympathies.
The premier al-Qaeda franchise in Somalia, al-Shabab has been waging war against the internationally recognized government in Mogadishu, which is supported by an African Union mission that includes Kenya.
Al-Shabab has carried out several devastating terror attacks in Kenya, including one that killed 67 people at the Westgate Mall in 2013 and another in April on Garissa University that left 148 dead.
The militants say they target Kenya for its role in the African Union mission. On Wednesday, Kenya airstrikes hit al-Shabab positions near the southern Somali port town of near of Kismayo.
cw/xx (AFP, AP)