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Kenya carries out air strikes on al-Shabab in Somalia

Kenya has carried out air strikes on al-Shabab Islamist militants in neighboring Somalia. This was the first major military response to last week's attack on a university that killed almost 150 people.

News agencies on Monday cited Kenyan military spokesman Colonel David Obonyo who said that his country's air force had launched strikes on al-Shabab camps in Gondodowe and Ismail in a region of Somalia located near the Kenyan border.

"We bombed two Shabab camps in the Gedo region," Obonyo said. "The two targets were hit and taken out, the two camps are destroyed."

He also denied that the strikes were a direct response to Thursday's attack on the Garissa College University last Thursday.

"The bombings are part of the continued process and engagement against al-Shabab, which will go on," Obonyo said.

There was no immediate casualty figure or information about damage caused the Kenyan air strikes.

Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack in Garissa, 350 kilometers (218 miles) northeast of Nairobi, in which

gunmen killed 147 non-Muslim students

after releasing those they had identified as Muslims. All four of the gunmen were either shot dead by security forces or blew themselves up.

Increased security

Security has been stepped up in Kenya in the wake of last week's attack. Even as the incident was ongoing,

President Uhuru Kenyatta

went on national television to announce that he was ordering that 10,000 new police officers be recruited and trained as quickly as possible. Kenyatta also declared three days of national mourning.

The

government has been criticized for a slow response to the shootings in Garissa,

which was not the first attack in Kenya claimed by al-Shabab. The Daily Nation newspaper reported on Saturday that after the news of the attack first broke, it took security forces around eight hours to arrive on the scene. Once there, the paper reported, security forces ended the incident within half an hour.

Revenge for participation in AU force

Al-Shabab has said that this and other attacks that it has carried out in Kenya are in revenge for the country's decision to contribute troops to an African Union force fighting the militants in Somalia.

The Islamist group also claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi in 2013.

pfd/kms (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)

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