Pope Francis on Thursday said Christian and Muslim leaders have to engage in dialogue to prevent the "barbarous'' extremist attacks that have struck Kenya recently. On a formal visit to Africa, the Pope made the comments at a meeting in Nairobi with leaders of different faiths, reported AP. He also insisted that religion can never be used to justify violence and that inter-faith dialogue is not a luxury or optional, but simply essential. Kenya, a former British colony, has a Christian majority, but Muslims represent about 10 percent of the population.

“All too often, young people are being radicalised in the name of religion to sow discord and fear, and to tear at the very fabric of our societies,” he rued. The global head of the Catholic Church explicitly referred to the attacks carried out by Somalia-based al-Shabab extremist group.

In April, the al-Qaida affiliate al-Shabab attacked a Christian college in north-eastern Kenya that left more than 150 people dead. A month before that, al-Shabab claimed responsibility for attacks in Mandera county on the Somali border, in which 12 people died. In September 2013, at least 67 people were killed in an attack by al-Shabab on the Westgate mall in Nairobi.