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Kenyan president vows harsh action, declares mourning period

President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced three days of national mourning, following the deaths of almost 150 people in one of the worst massacres in the country's history. Kenyatta promised to "fight terrorism to the end."

In his first televised address since the attack ended on Thursday, Kenyatta condemned the "barbaric slaughter" and asked for help from the Muslim community in rooting out radical elements.

"My administration shall respond in the severest way possible to the attack and any other attack to us," the Kenyan president said, speaking from the capital, Nairobi, on Saturday. "Thursday wounded Kenya, Thursday wounded families, friends and communities of the victims of the attack."

Al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab gunmen killed around 150 people at Garissa University College campus in retaliation for Kenyan participation in a mission against Shabab in Somalia. Most of the victims in Thursday's massacre were students attending the college situated some 200 km (120 miles) from the Somali border.

Four of the attackers were killed after a 15-hour siege, while one was reportedly arrested.

'We will bring them all to justice'

In his Saturday address to the nation, Kenyatta said the task of countering terrorism had been made all the more difficult by the fact that "the planners and financiers of this brutality are deeply embedded in our communities."

"We will fight terrorism to the end," Kenyatta said.

Five men have been arrested in the wake of the attacks, for alleged connections to Shabab militants. Kenyan authorities also put a $220,000 (200,000 euro) bounty on the head of the alleged mastermind of the attack, Mohamed Mohamud, also known as Dulyadin Gamadhere. He is believed to be in Somalia.

Mohamud was once a teacher at a Kenyan Islamic Madrassa school.

"I want you to know that our security forces are pursuing the remaining accomplices. We will bring all of them to justice," Kenyatta said, adding that the authorities were in "active pursuit" of the mastermind.

Kenyatta also declared a three-day mourning period, with flags in the country flying at half-mast.

Dead gunmen on display

Also on Saturday, Kenyan police drove the four bloated and naked corpses of the purported attackers through the streets, saying the display was made to help in determining the attackers' identity.

Hundreds of people, including children, came out to see the dead bodies, which were driven almost half a kilometer in the back of a pickup truck before being returned to hospital. While some jeered and took photos, other threw stones at the dead.

"The intention was not a parade, but rather for public identification so that if anyone can recognize them whether they are a relative or someone who knows them," local police chief Benjamin Ong'ombe said.

"Too many people turned out, so we had to return them," he added.

Many of the citizens said they were disgusted by the showing of the bodies, which were starting to decay.

"Instead of driving bodies around the streets now, the security forces should had pro-actively gone out to stop them from killing students," Ahmed Yusuf, a student, said.

dj/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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