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Kenya Gives Radical Youths 10 Days to Surrender

People sing as they attend a memorial concert at the "Freedom Corner" in Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 14, 2015, in memory of the Garissa university students who were killed by gunmen.

The Kenyan government has issued a 10-day amnesty to the youths who have joined the Somali Islamist militant group al-Shabab. The call came as investigators revealed some of the attackers at Garissa University College were Kenyan youths trained in Somalia.

As Kenya tries to come to terms with the terror event that took place two weeks ago at Garissa University College, where more than 140 people were killed, Kenyan officials have issued amnesty to youths who have joined al-Shabab and are willing to denounce violence.

Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka tells VOA his government has come up with a program that targets youths willing to reintegrate into society.

“We did not have a systematic program of rehabilitating and others will come; we know they are here, they fear coming out in the open for fear of prosecution. So what we are trying to do is to encourage them to come out; we work with them and see how we can get them back as youths of the society,” he said.

The country was shocked when investigators revealed some of the attackers were Kenyan youths who joined al-Shabab some years ago. One of them was the son of a local chief in one of the Mandera county towns worst hit by terror attacks in the past four months.

Kenya also offered amnesty to radical youths in 2012.

Months after Kenya sent troops to Somalia in October 2011, the government reported dozens surrendered and have been helping authorities with information about the presence of the militant group in Somalia and Kenya.

The United Nations monitoring group for Somalia and Eritrea estimates more than 500 Kenyans have joined al-Shabab.

Njoka noted rehabilitation centers would be created to provide help for them.

“Some of them have gone through traumatizing processes in the process of being radicalized. So what we would want to do is to revert that process so that they are engaged and we work with them," he said. "If there are those who are looking for jobs, we see how we can help them. Others who may be able to join colleges, we see how we can assist them.”

Kenyan authorities insist they are serious with the offer.

The amnesty ends April 24.