Kenya destroys two al-Shabaab camps in Somalia
The Kenyan air force says it destroyed two al-Shabaab camps in Somalia in response to the Garissa attack.
NAIROBI - The Kenyan air force has destroyed two al-Shabaab camps in Somalia, it said on Monday, in the first major military response since the Islamist group massacred students at a Kenyan university last week.
Al-Shabaab denied the camps were hit, saying the air force bombs fell on farmland.
Gunmen from the al-Qaeda-aligned group killed 148 people on Thursday when they stormed the Garissa University College campus, some 200 km from the Somali border.
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Jets pounded the camps in the Gedo region on the other side of the frontier on Sunday, Kenya Defence Forces spokesman David Obonyo said.
The mission was part of efforts to stop fighters from those camps carrying out cross-border raids into Kenya.
"Our aerial images show that the camps were completely destroyed," he said, though cloud cover made it difficult to estimate the death toll.
Al-Shabaab has killed more than 400 people on Kenyan soil in the last two years, including 67 during a siege at Nairobi's Westgate mall in 2013, piling political pressure on President Uhuru Kenyatta that intensified with last week's killings.
Kenya has struggled to stop the flow of militants and weapons across its porous 700-km border with Somalia, and the violence has also damaged the economy by scaring away tourists and investors.
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 instead struck farmland.
"Kenya has not targeted any of our bases," he said.
The rural Gedo region of Somalia is difficult to reach and reports about the raid could not be verified independently.
One of the four gunmen in the Garissa attack was 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 to join al-Shabaab.
All four gunmen were killed in the siege.
Kenyatta said on Saturday the planners and financiers of Islamist attacks were "deeply embedded" within Kenyan society and urged the Muslim community to do more to root out radicalisation.
A government source on Monday said governors, members of parliament and security officials from regions bordering Somalia would compile a list of people suspected to have joined al-Shabaab or been radicalised by Islamists.
"The message is very clear: we have to deal with this problem once and for all," said the official, adding that regional governors discussed the idea with Kenyatta on Monday.
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Garissa was the most deadly attack on Kenyan soil since al-Qaeda bombed the US embassy in Nairobi in 1998, killing more than 200 people and wounding thousands.