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Investigators stand inside a cordon line following a fire that burnt down one dormitory of Moi Girls school in Nairobi, Kenya September 2, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner


By John Ndiso

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's education minister said on Monday that arson was to blame for a weekend fire that killed nine pupils at a girls' boarding school and that there had been similar attacks on other schools around the country.

Minister Fred Matiang'i said some arson attacks had been related to fights over staff appointments in schools, where senior positions can bring financial rewards.

"It was not an accident, it was arson," Matiang'i said of the blaze on Saturday at Moi Girls School in the capital in which nine girls were killed and 10 injured.

Matiang'i said that there had been a spate of arson attacks on schools around the country, including in the coastal city of Mombasa and the western city of Kisumu. He did not give the total number of attacks.

"Some of the fires we have faced before in the sector are related to that kind of thing, politicization of school headship, politicization of responsibility in the education sector. It is not right," he said in a televised press conference.

"We cannot resolve a conflict on the headship of the school by burning a school."

Unemployment is high in Kenya and corruption is rife, and control of a school can mean not just a government salary, but an opportunity to extort extra money from students and parents in fees or other charges.

(Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Gareth Jones and Catherine Evans)

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