Nairobi – The Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab on Friday threatened new attacks in Kenya, a day after the extremists killed 147 people in a 16 hour siege of a university campus.
He was referring to Kenya’s participation in a 20 000-strong African Union force helping the Somali government battle al-Shabaab.“There will be no more safe places for Kenyans as long as their troops are in Somalia,” al-Shabaab spokesperson Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage told pro-insurgent radio Andalus.
“You will see more deadly attacks in your country, Kenya,” Rage said.
The al-Shabaab spokesperson said the militants who attacked the Moi University campus in Garissa, some 350km east of Nairobi, singled out Christians to kill.
The attackers “released a number of Muslim students as they were storming the university and killed many Christians inside the university”, Rage said, confirming witness accounts that people who were unable to answer questions about the Qur’an were shot dead.
Kenya, meanwhile, was mourning the victims as the Red Cross sought blood donations for some of the 79 people who were injured in the terrorist attack – the worst by al-Shabaab so far.
Many of the injured and the dead were flown to Nairobi, where family members were told to collect bodies at a mortuary.
At least four gunmen stormed the university campus at dawn, killing two guards and then gunning down students in dormitories, as well as others trying to escape.
Some students said they were spared because they could recite verses from the Qur’an.
“They stood in the main path from the hostels, asking questions about Islam and the prophet. It was scary, because Islam doesn’t teach about killing those who don’t know about the teachings,” the newspaper Daily Nation quoted student Hassan Abdi as saying.
Security forces cornered the attackers in one dormitory where they were holding hostages.
The government said four attackers were killed. The Daily Nation said they detonated suicide vests.
A ‘barbaric act’
Kenya offered a reward of 20 million shillings for the suspected mastermind of the attack, Mohamed Dulyadayn, a former Qur’an teacher from Garissa.
Police imposed an overnight curfew in Garissa and nearby areas until April 16.
In Washington, the White House extended condolences to the families of the victims, while African Union head Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said she was “appalled by such a barbaric act”.
The attack was the worst in Kenya since the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi, which killed more than 200 people.
Somalia’s nearly decade-long battle against al-Shabaab has cost thousands of lives.
Al-Shabaab has frequently targeted Kenya over its participation in the military campaign against the group.
The siege of a Nairobi shopping mall that cost 67 lives in September 2013 has been followed by smaller attacks mainly on the Kenyan coast.