Kenyan air force bombs two al-Shabaab bases in first response to Garissa University massacre

Meanwhile, public launch #147NotJustANumber social media campaign to remember 147 killed in brutal attack by Islamist militants

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The Independent Online

The Kenyan air force has bombed two al-Shabaab bases in Somalia as pressure mounts on the Government to take action while the nation mourns the 147 people killed in the Garissa University massacre.

Thousands of people have tweeting about the young people killed in the attack by Islamist gunmen who stormed the university campus on Thursday.

People have been tweeting pictures of those killed, along with the hashtags #147NotJustANumber and #TheyHaveNames.

 

 

 

 

President Uhuru Kenyatta is under increasing pressure to either pull out of Somalia altogether or  take action to protect the public from the constant threat of violence from the failed state they share a border with.

The Kenyan air force hit two al-Shabaab camps in the Somalian Gedo region in the country’s first military response to Thursday’s attack on Garissa University College Campus, just 200 km from the border with Somalia, Reuters has reported.

 

Kenyan Defence Forces spokesman David Obonyo told Reuters that strikes hit the camps Sunday. He added: "Our aerial images show that the camps were completely destroyed." He said cloud conditions made it difficult to estimate the number of deaths.

 

However, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab's military operations spokesman, told Reuters that none of its camps were damaged in Sunday's raid, and that the fighter jets had struck nearby farmland.

"Kenya has not targeted any of our bases," he said.

 

 

The Government is also now compiling a list of those suspected to have joined al-Shabaab or been radicalised by Islamists, Reuters reports, as they step up their fight against the militants.

One of the four gunmen in Garissa has been identified as the son of a Kenyan government official from Mandera county, which borders Gedo. Abdirahim Abdullahi, an ethnic Somali, was reported missing by his father after he crossed into Somalia.

 

"They are compiling a list of all those youths who are missing and suspected of having joined al-Shabaab," said a Government source, who is involved in the response to last week's Garissa attack.

 

The militant group, linked to al-Qaeda, have killed more than 400 people over the last two years, including 67 during a siege at Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall in 2013.

 

 

There’s increasing disquiet among the public, with some calling on President Uhuru Kenyatta to pull out of Somalia, as it struggles to control the stem of militants and weapons across its 750-km border with the failed state.

Some argue that the attacks announced today are too little too late from the security forces, who have failed to protect citizens from violence and terror.

Isaac Mutisya, whose 23-year-old daughter Risper Mutindi Kasyoka is among the dead, told Reuters: "The security services) waited too long and the terrorists had so much time to kill our kids."

 

Opposition leader Raila Odinga, who was Prime Minister when Kenya sent troops into Somalia in 2011 to battle al Shabaab, said the government should start thinking about pulling out, just as the United States withdrew troops after 18 soldiers were killed in the 1993 Black Hawk Down incident in Mogadishu.

 

"The U.S. used to have many soldiers in Somalia but it recalled them. Kenya should also remove its military officers from Somalia," Odinga said on Sunday, according to comments in Monday's edition of Kenya's Standard newspaper.

 

 

Kenya has so far shown no inclination to pull out of Somalia where its troops, part of an U.N.-backed African Union peacekeeping mission, have claimed swathes of territory from the Islamist group.

Western diplomats, however, say this loss of territory has not weakened al Shabaab's capacity to carry out one-off guerilla-style attacks in Somalia or abroad.

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