Kenyan fighter jets have targeted al-Shabab camps in neighboring Somalia in response to Garissa University attack.
The warplanes had bombed two camps in Gondodowe and Ismail, both in the Gedo region, used by al-Shabab to cross into Kenya, military sources say.
This is Kenya’s first response to an al-Shabab assault which left 148 people dead at Garissa University last week.
President Uhuru Kenyatta had vowed to respond to the attack “in the severest way possible”.
Al-Shabab said the assault in Garissa, which is 120 miles from the Somali border, was revenge for Kenya sending troops into Somalia to fight alongside African Union peacekeepers against the group.
The Islamist group, which at one point controlled most of Somalia, has lost swaths of territory in recent years but diplomats have repeatedly warned this has not diminished its ability to stage guerrilla-style attacks at home and abroad.
Five suspects have been detained in Kenya over the al-Shabab attack on Garissa University campus on April 2 which left almost 150 people dead, officials say.
Some of the suspects were arrested while trying to flee to neighboring Somalia, the internal security ministry said.
At least 148 people – mostly students – were killed when gunmen attacked a university campus in Garissa.
Al-Shabab has since pledged a “long, gruesome war” against Kenya.
The militant group said its attacks were in retaliation for acts by Kenya’s security forces, which are part of the African Union’s mission in Somalia against al-Shabab.
In Garissa, a survivor has emerged from hiding more than two days after the assault was unleashed.
The 19-year-old girl was found unhurt in a cupboard on April 4, but security officials had to bring in a teacher to convince her that it was safe to come out.
She told reporters that she drank body lotion when she felt hungry.
Four other people were found alive on the campus on April 3, including two suspects. One was said to be a Tanzanian national with no known links to the university.
While many of the survivors spoke to the media, little is known so far about those who were killed.
Their bodies have been flown to Nairobi for identification, as local mortuaries have been unable to cope, and many of the students killed came from other parts of Kenya.
There has been criticism in Garissa, which is 100 miles from the Somali border, at how the security services dealt with the attack.
Only two guards were on duty at the time of the assault, despite official warnings that an attack on an institution of higher learning was likely.
One survivor said the students had raised security issues late last year. Another said the gunmen appeared to know the site well.
In an address to the nation after the attack, President Uhuru Kenyatta said he had instructed the police chief to speed up the training of 10,000 recruits, because Kenya had “suffered unnecessarily” because of a shortage of security personnel.
Police in neighboring Uganda say they have received information suggesting a similar attack is being planned there.
US Homeland Security has urged Americans to be vigilant following a terror threat to Western shopping centers, including Mall of America.
Secretary Jeh Johnson said he took the threat by the Somali-based group al-Shabab seriously.
In a video, al-Shabab urged followers to carry out attacks on shopping centers in the US, Canada and the UK.
Al-Shabab was responsible for the 2013 attack on Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi that killed 67 people.
Jeh Johnson told CNN that the threat was part of “a new phase” of terrorism in which attacks would increasingly come from “independent actors in their homelands”.
“Anytime a terrorist organization calls for an attack on a specific place, we’ve got to take that seriously,” he said.
In the video, a man with a British-sounding accent and full face covering calls on supporters of al-Shabab to attack “American or Jewish-owned” Western shopping centers.
He specifically mentions Minnesota’s Mall of America – the second-largest US shopping centre – and Canada’s West Edmonton Mall, as well as London’s Oxford Street and the UK capital’s two Westfield shopping centers.
Co-ordinates for the various targets were listed on the screen as they were described.
Both Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall have issued statements saying they were implementing additional security measures.
Minnesota is home to a large Somali population and a Minnesota man was indicted last week on charges of conspiring to support Islamic State (ISIS).
Police and security services in Canada, France and Denmark have been on high alert recently following attacks by so-called “home-grown” terrorists inspired by groups such as al-Shabab and ISIS.
Al-Shabab militants have confirmed that they have attacked a bus in northern Kenya, killing 28 people.
The bus was travelling to Nairobi when it was stopped in Mandera county, not far from the Somali border.
The Somali gunmen separated out non-Muslims by asking passengers to read from the Koran, officials and witnesses said. Those who failed were then shot in the head.
Al-Shabab has carried out a series of attacks in Kenya since 2011.
A statement on a website linked to the Islamist group carried a statement saying the attack was carried out in retaliation for security raids on mosques in the coastal city of Mombasa earlier this week.
Kenyan interior ministry said on its Twitter feed that a camp belonging to the attackers had been destroyed by Kenyan military helicopters and jets, with “many killed”.
More than 60 passengers were on the bus when it was attacked, before dawn on November 22, about 19 miles from Mandera town.
The driver tried to accelerate away, but the vehicle became stuck in mud caused by recent heavy rains.
About 10 heavily armed men talking Somali ordered the passengers off the bus.
Kenya’s Red Cross said emergency workers were trying to retrieve bodies from the scene.
Security agencies were “in pursuit of the criminal gang” that carried out the attack, the interior ministry said. It described the assailants as “bandits”.
A local official quoted by Kenyan media said the government had failed to answer their pleas for extra security.
The attack comes after a week of heightened tension in Mombasa, which has suffered a series of al-Shabab attacks.
Security forces raided mosques in the city, saying they were being used to store weapons. The raids triggered apparent revenge attacks by Muslim youths.
Kenya has experience a series of al-Shabab attacks since it sent troops to Somalia three years ago to help fight the militant group.
Mandera, a remote area in Kenya’s north-east that shares a long and porous border with Somalia, has been one of the regions worst-affected by the violence.
On the Somali side of the border, al-Shabab is said to have a base that was recently bombed by Kenyan warplanes. It was not immediately clear whether this was the same base targeted by Kenya following Saturday’s attack.
Two explosions have killed three people and wounded several others in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa, police say.
In the deadliest attack, a grenade was reportedly thrown in a bus that had just arrived from Nairobi.
The other blast happened at a bar near a hotel in the Nyali beach area. There are no reports of casualties there.
Kenya has been hit by a spate of attacks blamed by the government on Somali Islamist militants.
Kenya has been hit by a spate of attacks blamed by the government on Somali Islamist militants (photo EMPICS)
The al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabab has carried out several attacks in Kenya since 2011, when Kenya sent troops into Somalia to battle it.
No-one has yet claimed responsibility for Saturday’s blasts.
The first blast is believed to have occurred after a grenade was thrown in a Nairobi-Mombasa bus that had just arrived in the busy Mwembe Tayari transport terminal, killing three people and wounding at least four others.
The second explosion took place at a beach bar near the Nayali Reef Hotel, after a device was left in a plastic bag in the washroom.
It is thought that a third attack was planned for a nearby cinema complex but was unsuccessful.
All three incidents happened within minutes of each other.
Tensions have been rising in Mombasa in recent months, with authorities accusing Islamists of radicalizing local youths.
Al-Shabab was blamed for an attack on a church in Mombasa in March that killed six people.
Shortly afterwards, a radical Muslim cleric alleged to have acted as a recruiter for al-Shabab was shot dead near Mombasa, prompting riots in the city.
Interpol has issued a wanted persons notice for Briton Samantha Lewthwaite, known as the “White Widow”, at Kenya’s request.
Samantha Lewthwaite, 29, is the widow of Germaine Lindsay, one of the four suicide bombers who attacked London on July 7th, 2005.
She has been linked with Somali militant Islamist group al-Shabab.
Interpol did not link the warrant to Nairobi’s Westgate mall attack that left at least 67 dead.
However, it comes after much speculation linking Samantha Lewthwaite to events there.
Al-Shabab was behind the attack and subsequent four-day siege at the Westgate shopping complex in the Kenyan capital.
An Interpol statement said Samantha Lewthwaite was “wanted by Kenya on charges of being in possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony dating back to December 2011”.
The Interpol alert, known as a “Red Notice”, requires member countries to detain the suspect pending extradition procedures.
Interpol has issued a wanted persons notice for Briton Samantha Lewthwaite, known as the “White Widow”, at Kenya’s request
Samantha Lewthwaite – who is believed to use the alias “Natalie Webb” – had previously only been wanted for the alleged possession of a fraudulently obtained South African passport.
She is the widow of Germaine Lindsay, one of the four bombers involved in the July 7 terror attacks in London in 2005 in which 52 people were killed and hundreds more injured.
Interpol’s red notice acts like a global wanted poster, but it’s also a concession by the Kenyan security forces that she is an international danger, not just someone who should be regarded as a passport fraudster.
Kenya is continuing three days of official mourning for the civilian and military victims of the siege.
The funeral of pregnant television and radio star Ruhila Adatia-Sood was one of many being held on Thursday.
Flags are flying at half mast amid visibly tighter security around the Kenyan capital. Security guards were scanning passengers with metal detectors before they boarded buses.
Kenyan investigators have been joined by experts from the US, UK, Germany, Canada and Interpol to comb the sprawling shopping complex for DNA, fingerprints and ballistic clues.
Somali Islamist group al-Shabab has said it had carried out the attack in retaliation for Kenyan army operations in Somalia.
The militants stormed the Westgate centre on Saturday, throwing grenades and firing indiscriminately at shoppers and staff.
Twitter posts on an al-Shabab account said the group’s militants had held 137 people hostage, and claimed the hostages had died after security forces fired chemical agents to end the siege.
A government spokesman denied any chemical agents were used, and authorities called on Kenyans to ignore militant propaganda.
Al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, has repeatedly threatened attacks on Kenyan soil if Nairobi did not pull its troops out of Somalia.
About 4,000 Kenyan troops have been serving in the south of Somalia since October 2011 as part of an African Union force supporting Somali government forces.
The group is banned as a terrorist group by both the US and the UK and is believed to have between 7,000 and 9,000 fighters.
Al-Shabab members are fighting to create an Islamic state in Somalia.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced that the four-day siege involving suspected Islamist militants at Nairobi’s Westgate shopping centre is over.
Five attackers were shot dead by troops and 11 suspects were in custody, he said in a TV address to the nation.
Kenya has “shamed and defeated our attackers” but the “losses are immense”, Uhuru Kenyatta said, confirming that 61 civilians and six soldiers had died.
Three days of national mourning have been declared, starting on Wednesday.
Uhuru Kenyatta said that several bodies – including those of “terrorists” – were thought to be trapped under rubble after three floors of the building collapsed following a blaze on Monday.
Some 175 people were injured in the attack; 62 people remain in hospital and many others are being treated for shock and are undergoing counseling.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced that the four-day siege involving suspected Islamist militants at Nairobi’s Westgate shopping centre is over
“I promise that we shall have a full accountability for the mindless destruction, deaths, pain, loss and suffering we have all undergone as a national family.
“These cowards will meet justice, as will their accomplices and patrons, wherever they are,” he said.
At least 18 foreigners are among the dead, citizens from France, UK, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Peru, India, Ghana, South Africa and China.
The militants stormed the Westgate centre on Saturday, throwing grenades and firing on shoppers and staff.
Somali Islamist group al-Shabab said it had carried out the attack in retaliation for Kenyan army operations in Somalia.
Uhuru Kenyatta said he could not confirm reports that a British national and two or three US citizens were involved in the attacks, but he said forensic experts were carrying out tests to ascertain their nationalities.
In an interview with the US TV programme PBS Newshour, Kenya’s Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed said the Americans were 18 or 19 years old, of Somali or Arab origin.
Her remarks have fuelled media speculation about the possible involvement of Samantha Lewthwaite, the widow of one of the men who carried out attacks on London’s transport system on July 7th, 2005.
However, a Twitter post from al-Shabab on Tuesday evening dismissed claims that women were involved in the attack. The group said it “categorically” denied involvement of any woman”.
An unknown number of hostages are still inside Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi, Kenya, after a deadly assault by al-Shabab militants, officials say.
At least 39 people died when members of the Somali Islamist group stormed the Westgate centre on Saturday.
Officials say the gunmen have been cornered but that people are trapped in a number of locations.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta earlier vowed to “hunt down the perpetrators wherever they run to”.
Al-Shabab said it carried out the attack on the upmarket mall in response to Kenyan military operations in Somalia.
There are about 4,000 Kenyan troops in the south of Somalia, where they have been fighting the militants since 2011.
On its Twitter feed, al-Shabab – which has links to al-Qaeda – said it was behind what it called the “Westgate spectacle”.
Kenyan officials said “major operations” were under way with police and soldiers preparing an apparent bid to bring an end to the stand-off.
They said the security forces had finally “pinned down” the surviving gunmen.
“The work is continuing, but you cannot rush these things,” an army officer posted on the perimeter cordon set up around the mall told the AFP news agency.
“Our teams are there, we are watching and monitoring, we will finish this as soon as we can.”
The authorities have asked journalists to exercise caution when reporting military developments because the gunmen might be monitoring the media.
“Hostiles suspected to have access to the internet,” the Disaster Operation Centre in Nairobi posted on Twitter.
“Reports on personnel movement and progress will not be posted for fear of compromising strategy.”
An unknown number of hostages are still inside Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi
The officials said the number of hostages was “still unknown, but they are in several locations”.
“The gunmen have been contained in one location, but there are hostages elsewhere in the vicinity who cannot access the exit.”
Upper levels of the mall had been secured, it said.
The attack began at about 12:00 local time, when the attackers entered the Westgate centre throwing grenades and firing automatic weapons. A children’s day event was being held at the time – children are among those reported killed.
Some witnesses said the militants told Muslims to leave and said non-Muslims would be targeted.
“They came and said: <<If you are Muslim, stand up. We’ve come to rescue you>>,” said Elijah Lamau.
He said the Muslims left with their hands up, and then the gunmen shot two people.
Scores of people fled or were evacuated while police and armed security guards fought running gun battles with the militants throughout the mall for hours.
As night fell in Nairobi, two contingents of army special forces troops were reported to have moved inside the mall.
Reports say at least one of the attackers was a woman who appeared to have some kind of leadership role.
One gunman was arrested and died of his wounds, Kenyan officials said. Four other gunmen were arrested.
In a televised address on Saturday evening, President Uhuru Kenyatta said security forces were “in the process of neutralizing the attackers and securing the mall”.
He went on: “We shall hunt down the perpetrators wherever they run to. We shall get to them and we shall punish them for this heinous crime.”
He said he had “personally lost family members in the Westgate attack”.
Security experts are reported to have long warned that the complex, which is part Israeli-owned, was in danger of being subjected to a terror attack.
Al-Shabab says the African Union forces are invaders stopping their legitimate vision of creating an Islamic state and respond by mounting hit-and-run attacks.
The US State Department said it had reports that American citizens were injured in what it called “a senseless act of violence”.
Two French citizens and two Canadians, including a diplomat, are also among the dead.
Nairobi’s mortuary superintendent, Sammy Nyongesa Jacob, told Reuters that Africans, Asians and Caucasians were among the bodies brought to the mortuary.
This is one of the worst incidents in Kenya since the attack on the US embassy in August 1998.
Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, a top Islamist in Somalia, has arrived in the capital Mogadishu amid reports of a split in the al-Shabab group.
He was flown from the northern town of Adado, escorted by government security forces, but it is unclear whether he has surrendered or defected.
The UN says he gave himself up to government allies after infighting but clan elders deny this.
Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys is considered a terrorist by the UN and the United States.
Regarded as the elder statesman of Somali Islamists, he has been on a US list of people “linked to terrorism” since shortly after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
A new UN-backed government in Mogadishu is trying to regain control of the country from al-Shabab after more than 20 years of conflict.
Supported by some 18,000 African Union soldiers, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s administration is the first in more than two decades to be recognized by the US and the International Monetary Fund.
Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, a top Islamist in Somalia, has arrived in the capital Mogadishu amid reports of a split in the al-Shabab group
Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys was flown by plane from Adado, a town about 310 miles north of the capital.
“If he renounces violence, then we can start the discussion about the options available,” government spokesman Abdirahman Omar Osman told Reuters news agency, without describing the options.
Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys left al-Shabab territory after factions within the al-Qaeda linked group clashed last week – the first deadly infighting since it launched an insurgency in 2006.
Al-Shabab, which means “The Youth”, is fighting to create an Islamic state in Somalia – and despite being pushed out of key cities in the past two years still remains in control of smaller towns and large swathes of the countryside.
It was as a radical offshoot of the now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts, which was led by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys and for much of that year controlled Mogadishu and many southern and central areas.
The exact cause of the al-Shabab split is not known, but there has been a long-running internal power struggle between its leader Ahmed Abdi Godane and those seen as more moderate who oppose links with al-Qaeda, analysts say.
There are conflicting reports about the fate of the second-in-command – Ibrahim Afghan, the al-Shabab founder – following last week’s fighting.
Initially, sources said he had been captured and was in al-Shabab detention; subsequent reports in local media say he has been executed.
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