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NAIROBI (Reuters) - The head of the Kenyan intelligence service, which has been criticised in recent months for failing to stop a spate of attacks blamed on Islamist militants from neighbouring Somalia, resigned on Thursday, the president's spokesman said.
The east African nation has suffered a string of gun and grenade attacks in the past several months, including the assault on the upscale Westgate shopping mall in the capital Nairobi last September, in which at least 67 people were killed.
A statement read on national television by President Uhuru Kenyatta's spokesman Manoah Esipisu said Michael Gichangi, a fighter jet pilot who rose to the rank of major general in the armed forces, had resigned on personal grounds.
"His Excellency the President has asked Major-General Gichangi to remain in his role until a replacement is nominated," Esipisu said in the statement.
Gichangi was appointed to lead the National Intelligence Service in 2006 for a five year term, which was renewed in 2011.
Kenyan security bosses have been severely criticised in the wake of the Westgate attack for failing to stop the attackers from the al Shabaab group who said they launched the attacks to punish the country for sending its troops into Somalia in 2011.
The criticism grew after a mid-June attack in the coastal town of Mpeketoni, in which at least 50 people were killed, after Kenyatta said intelligence on the impending attack was available but it had not been acted on.
Esipisu said Kenyatta had also reshuffled his principal secretaries, the No.2 bureaucrats in ministries, the most notable being the transfer of Mutea Iringo from the interior ministry to the defence ministry.
Iringo was replaced with Monica Juma.
Kenyatta also nominated new ambassadors including Njeru Githae, a former finance minister, to the coveted Washington post. Githae is a key ally of Kenyatta who was beaten in a contest for the governorship of a rural county in last year's election.
(Reporting by Duncan Miriri)