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Al Shabaab Promises 'Gruesome War' in Kenya After Massacre at University

The Somali militant group vowed to make Kenyan cities run “red with blood,” following the attack Thursday at a Kenyan university that killed 148 people.
April 4, 2015, 6:16pm
Photo by Ben Curtis/AP

The Somali militant group al Shabaab has vowed to make Kenyan cities run "red with blood," following its attack Thursday at a Kenyan university that killed 148 people.

In a statement emailed to Reuters and shared online, al Shabaab warned of more attacks to come in Kenya. "This will be a long, gruesome war of which you, the Kenyan public, are its first casualties," the statement said. "No amount of precaution or safety measures will be able to guarantee your safety, thwart another attack or prevent another bloodbath from occurring in your cities."

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The threat comes two days after gunmen stormed Garissa University College, killing nearly 150 people and injuring dozens more. The attack was the deadliest to take place on Kenyan soil since the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi.

One survivor was discovered Saturday. Cynthia Cheroitich, a 19-year-old student, told the Associated Press that she hid in a closet, refusing to leave until security forces found her Saturday morning, two days after the assault ended.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta responded to al Shabaab's threat Saturday in a nationally televised response, saying that Kenya will respond in the "fiercest way possible," and "do everything to defend our way of life" and prevent Islamic militants from establishing a caliphate in Kenya, according to the AP.

Related: Kenyans search for loved ones and answers on government's poor security after university attack 

Kenyan security officials killed the four gunmen who stormed the university and arrested five others suspected of being involved. Kenya's interior minister said the suspects, who are of Somali descent, were arrested while trying to escape to Somalia.

Kenyatta added in his address Saturday that police are still searching for Dulyadin Gamadhere, a former teacher at the college who is believed to have orchestrated the attack. Kenyan authorities have offered a $220,000 reward for information about Gamadhere's whereabouts.

In a phone call to Kenyatta on Friday, US President Barack Obama pledged to follow through on plans to visit Kenya as scheduled in July. Obama called the Kenyan leader to offer, "his support for the government and people of Kenya as they stand united in the face of these despicable acts," the White House said.

Thursday's massacre is the fifth attack carried out by al Shabaab in Kenya in the past year and a half. Prior to the Garissa attack, al Shabaab's biggest operation was the siege on the Westgate Mall in September 2013 that killed nearly 70 people. Al Shabaab has mostly carried out attacks inside Somalia, yet in recent years the group has demonstrated its ability to wreak havoc beyond Somalia's borders. African Union forces, aided by US drone strikes, have been battling the militants for the past several years, decimating much of the group's leadership and driving them from Somalia's capital of Mogadishu.

Follow Olivia Becker on Twitter: @obecker928