Kenya killers tried to flee to Somalia

2015-04-04 11:34
Kenyans read a newspaper with headlines about the attack on the university in Garissa. (Carl de Souza, AFP)

Kenyans read a newspaper with headlines about the attack on the university in Garissa. (Carl de Souza, AFP)

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Nairobi - Five suspects have been arrested in connection with the killing of 147 people at a Kenyan university campus by the Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab, a Kenyan Interior Ministry spokesperson said on Saturday.

One of the gunmen was detained while fleeing the scene during the attack, the ministry confirmed earlier.

Four others have been taken into custody since, spokesperson Mwenda Njoka told dpa.

Three of the four were seized while fleeing to Somalia, the spokesperson said, declining to give more details.

"I don't want to get into details on how we got them, or their connections, because this is a continuing threat," Njoka said.

"An operation of that magnitude [the university attack] involves not just two, three or five people - it's much more complex."

In the deadliest attack yet by al-Shabaab, gunmen stormed the university campus in Garissa, 350km north-east of Nairobi early on Thursday, gunning down students who they identified as Christians because they could not answer questions about the Koran.

Security forces cornered the attackers in one dormitory where they were holding hostages. Four attackers finally blew themselves up.

The attack claimed the lives of 142 students, three security officers and two university staff, while 104 people were injured, according to the Interior Ministry. Nineteen of the injured victims were reported to be in critical condition.

The government has said the assailants were likely associates of Mohamed Kuno Gamadheere, also known as Mohamed Dulyadayn, the suspected mastermind of the attack, for whom the security forces have offered a reward of $210 000.

Kuno, a former teacher in an Islamic school in Garissa, is believed to have risen to the rank of commander within al-Shabaab.

Al-Shabaab attacks usually involve an entire network of operatives, including coordinators travelling between Kenya and Somalia and the killers themselves, Njoka explained.

Thursday's killers knew they would not survive their mission, he added.

"We have been working through and through," Njoka said. "We are positive we are going to get more [suspects] based on our interrogations."

The government meanwhile made public a list of the 10 most wanted terror suspects in the country.

The terrorist attack was the worst in Kenya since the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi, which left more than 200 people dead.

Somalia's nearly decade-long battle against al-Shabaab has cost thousands of lives.

Al-Shabaab frequently targets Kenya over its participation in Somalia's military campaign against it. 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.

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