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Kenya bombs al-Shabaab camps in Somalia

Jets pounded the camps in the Gedo region bordering Kenya, the military source said on Monday.

FILE: Al-Shabaab militants have killed more than 400 people in Kenya since April 2013. Picture: AFP.

NAIROBI - It's been confirmed that the Kenyan air force bombed two al-Shabaab camps in Somalia on Sunday, a Kenya Defence Forces source said on Monday, in the first major military response to last week's attack by the militant group on a Kenyan university.

Gunmen from the al-Qaeda-aligned group killed 147 people on Thursday when they stormed the Garissa University College campus, some 200km from the Somali border.

Jets pounded the camps in Gondodowe and Ismail, both in the Gedo region bordering Kenya, the military source said on Monday. Cloud cover made it difficult to establish how much damage the bombings caused or estimate the death toll.

"We targeted the two areas because according to information we have, those [al-Shabaab] fellows are coming from there to attack Kenya," he said.

Kenya has struggled to stop the flow of al-Shabaab militants and weapons across its porous 700km border with Somalia.

Al-Shabaab militants have killed more than 400 people in Kenya since April 2013.

An African Union peacekeeping force that includes Kenyan troops, and which is fighting the group in Somalia, carried out arrests and seized ammunitions in an al-Shabaab camp in Gondodowe last August.

Meanwhile, the Kenyan government on Sunday said it would compensate the victims and their families.

Deputy President William Ruto visited survivors at a Nairobi hospital at the weekend and told them he would pay their medical expenses.

He also said the government would cover the victims cost for funerals to give them an appropriate send off.

WATCH: University security tightened.

'SON OF A GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL WAS AMONG GUNMEN IN GARISSA ATTACK'

The son of a Kenyan government official was one of the masked gunmen who killed nearly 150 at the university, the interior ministry said on Sunday, as Kenyan churches hired armed guards to protect their Easter congregations.

Pope Francis decried Thursday's attack in his Easter Sunday service, praying for those killed by Islamist gunmen who hunted down Christians while sparing Muslims.

At one church in the Indian Ocean port city of Mombasa, worshippers were evacuated and a bomb disposal unit deployed due to a suspicious vehicle parked outside the church.

Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka said Abdirahim Abdullahi, son of a government official in the northern Mandera county bordering Somalia, was one of four gunmen who stormed the college campus in northeastern town of Garissa.

"The father had reported to security agents that his son had disappeared from home... and was helping the police try to trace his son by the time the Garissa terror attack happened," Njoka told Reuters in a text message.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday said the planners and financiers of Islamist attacks were "deeply embedded" within Kenyan communities and urged Muslims to do more to fight radicalisation.

A Garissa-based official said the government was aware Abdullahi, a former University of Nairobi law student, had joined the militant group al-Shabaab after graduating in 2013.

"He was a very brilliant student. But then he got these crazy ideas," said the official.

The al-Shabaab group said the assault on Garissa was revenge for Kenya sending troops into Somalia to fight alongside African Union peacekeepers against the al-Qaeda-aligned group.

The militants have threatened to turn Kenyan cities "red with blood" and police have stepped up security at shopping malls and public buildings in the capital Nairobi, and the eastern coastal region which has been prone to al Shabaab attacks.

The Garissa assault has further strained the historically cordial relations between Kenya's Christian and Muslim communities, which have deteriorated due to frequent Islamist attacks on Christian priests and churches.

Kenyan priests said they feared churches could be targeted on Easter Sunday, the main liturgical feast in the Christian calendar.

"We are very concerned about the security of our churches and worshippers, especially this Easter period, and also because it is clear that these attackers are targeting Christians," Willybard Lagho, a Mombasa-based Catholic priest and chairman of the Coast Interfaith Council of Clerics, told Reuters.

He said churches Mombasa were hiring armed police and private security guards for mass on Easter Sunday.

Christians make up 83 percent of Kenya's 44 million population.