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Kenyans Rally Against Terror Attacks, Insecurity

Protesters holding red crosses symbolizing victims of terror attacks are seen gathered outside the President's Office in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 25, 2014. (Mohammed Yusuf/VOA)

Kenyan activists took to the streets Tuesday, demanding the government fire the police chief and interior cabinet secretary for failing to protect the population.

The protest comes a few days after the Somali militant group al-Shabab attacked a bus in northeast Kenya killing 28 people. The protesters said they are tired of mourning the innocent.

Demonstrators camped outside President Uhuru Kenyatta's office for the better part of the day and paraded hundreds of crosses painted in red, symbolizing those killed in terror attacks and crime activities around the country.

Later Tuesday, Kenyan police used teargas to disperse the demonstrators. Kenyatta was out of the country during the protest, attended by about 200 people, Reuters reported.

Kenyan activist Boniface Mwangi was one of the organizers of the protest.

Calls for officials to be fired

Mwangi said the president must fire Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku and Police Chief David Kimaiyo for failing to protect citizens against militants and criminal gangs.

"We want the president to call for [a] public inquiry about all past terror attacks and why security failed. If he is not able to fire Ole Lenku or Kimaiyo, he can request them to resign," Mwangi said.

Lenku told Reuters through a spokesman that he would not resign. Kimaiyo was not immediately available to comment.

"I think the president, he is too lazy, because he is safe. Our president has [an] armored car, he has bodyguards, our members of parliament and our senators have bodyguards [and] we have nothing," Mwangi said.

Kenya has witnessed a series of deadly attacks over the past three years, ever since it sent troops into Somalia to fight al-Shabab. The deadliest was the assault on a Nairobi shopping mall in September 2013 that left more than 70 people dead.

Wanjiru Nderu, a mother of three, said she is tired of the government not backing up its tough words with action, and she warned that insecurity may catch up with Kenya's political class if things do not improve.

"We are hoping to send a message - as Kenyans we are tired and something needs to be done," Nderu said.

"Perhaps in their high places they do not see the need to change or the need to look at us in a better way or to value a Kenyan life, but we are here to pass them a message that we are tired, we are totally, totally tired," she said.

'A lot of blood has been shed'

Another protester, gospel musician David Mathenge, said terror attacks and insecurity are hurting people's livelihoods.

"I am here on the streets as a Kenyan to demand decisive action on the security agenda. A lot of blood has been shed and it's so scary if policemen can be attacked - and that's a policeman with a gun, so where am I?" Mathenge asked?

"Businesses can't even go on in Kenya, we can't even raise families, nothing can happen without security, security is our right, that's why we are demanding for it," he said.

On Sunday, Kenyan officials said the army had killed Saturday's bus attackers along with dozens of other fighters.

Critics demanded proof of the statement, amid questions over how serious the government is about tackling insecurity.

Some material for this report came from Reuters.