NAIROBI - Vowing to protect Christians in their areas, Kenyan Muslims will form groups to provide protection to churches following deadly weekend attacks in eastern Kenya.
"Muslims felt that because those Christians are a minority in their domain they must be protected at all cost," Adan Wachu, head of the Supreme Council of Kenyan Muslims, told the BBC on Wednesday, July 4.
At least 15 people were killed Sunday after gunmen opened fire at Christian worshippers at a church in Garissa in eastern Kenya near borders with Somalia.
A simultaneous attack also targeted another church in the area.
Wachu said the church attacks were acts of terrorists and terrorism.
"Therefore we all resolved to stand together as one united front," he said at a meeting of the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya on Tuesday.
There was no claim of responsibility of the weekend attacks, but Kenyan authorities suspect the militant Al-Shabaab group in Somalia was behind the attacks.
Kenya has suffered a spate of gun, grenade and bomb attacks since sending troops into southern Somalia last October to target Al-Shabaab militants fighting to overthrow the weak UN-backed government in the Horn of Africa state.
However, the well-organized and coordinated attacks appear to mark a scaling up from previous smaller attacks, which have often been simply grenades hurled into bars or bus stations.
The attacks in Garissa were the deadliest since an Al-Qaeda-claimed bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa in 2002, in which 18 people died.
Muslim leaders have warned of a four play to spark a religious war in Kenya.
"There are people out there who are determined to make Kenya another Nigeria," Wachu told the BBC Network Africa Program.
"It's not going to be allowed to have a sectarian division in this country - whoever wants to do that will of course fail."
A similar view was viewed by senior Kenyan officials.
This is not a religious matter, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said.
This is not a war between Muslims and Christians. This is a group of terrorists.
Christian leaders have also denied reports about a religious war in the east African country.
"We treat the incident as an act of international terrorism and not a war between a Muslim and Christian faithful," chairman of pastors' fellowship in Garissa Pastor John Maura said.
There are nearly ten million Muslims in Kenya, which has a population of 36 million.Muslims make up nearly 98 percent of the communities of the North Eastern Province.