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Al-Shabab warns Kenya's cities will run 'red with blood'

The Somali Islamist group al-Shabab says it will stage more attacks on Kenya. The threat comes as Kenyan media says the death toll from this week's assault on a university is likely to rise.

In an e-mailed statement released on Saturday, the Somali militant group threatened to wage a "long and gruesome war" on Kenya in revenge for the alleged oppression of Muslims by the Kenyan government.

"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," the statement said, adding that Kenya's cities would run "red with blood."

The group has often said that its attacks in Kenya are in retribution for Nairobi's deployment of troops in neighboring Somalia to help fight against the militants.

The renewed threat comes two days after four masked al-Shabab gunmen

raided a university in the northeastern town of Garissa

, killing scores of students in what was the bloodiest ever attack by the militant group.

Toll 'likely to rise'

Kenya's largest-circulation newspaper, the Daily Nation, said the death toll from Thursday's attack was likely to rise well above the current official figure of 148, a view confirmed to the Reuters news agency by a government source.

Many students remain missing, with their whereabouts unknown, following the attack, in which the militants targeted mostly non-Muslims, according to witnesses.

Dozens were also wounded, several of them critically.

The interior ministry said on Friday that five men had been arrested in connection with the attack, including three suspected masterminds.

Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka added that the four gunmen who conducted the attack had been killed at the end of the day-long siege.

Public anger

More than 400 people have been killed in Kenya in attacks by al-Shabab since President Uhuru Kenyatta took office in April 2013, including some 67 people killed in

a four-day siege at the Westgate shopping mall

in the capital, Nairobi, in September of that year.

Nairobi Kenia Terroranschlag Al-Shabaab Einkaufszentrum Westgate Mall - Smoke rises from the Westgate shopping center in Nairobi during the al_Shabab raid REUTERS/Johnson Mugo

The Westgate mall attack sent shock waves around the world

The recent series of gun and grenade attacks, which have damaged Kenya's image abroad and

its tourism industry,

have led to increased pressure on Kenyatta to

improve his country's security situation,

with analysts saying that rampant corruption is to blame for many failings in this area.

Public anger over the Garissa massacre has been compounded by the fact that there had been warnings last week of an imminent attack on a university.

Al-Shabab is increasingly adopting a strategy of attacking "soft" targets after being weakened by a series of territorial losses in Somalia in recent years and suffering the loss of several commanders in US drone strikes.

The group at one point controlled most of Somalia.

tj/lw (AFP, Reuters)

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