Somali militants vowed on Saturday to wage a long war against Kenya and run its cities “red with blood” after the group’s fighters killed nearly 150 people during an assault on a Kenyan university.
In the worst bloodshed in Kenya in nearly two decades, four al Shabaab gunmen went on a killing spree on Thursday, hunting down and executing students in a campus in Garissa, a northeastern town 200 km (120 miles) from the Somali border.
The raid has put Kenya on heightened alert and spooked Christian congregations, horrified by survivor testimonies recalling how the Islamist militants had sought out Christians to kill, while sparing some Muslims.
In the message directed at the Kenyan public, the al Qaeda aligned group said the raid was retribution for Kenya’s military presence in Somalia and mistreatment of Muslims within Kenya.
“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 group said in an emailed statement received by Reuters in the Somali capital.
It said it would run cities “red with blood”, adding: “This will be a long, gruesome war of which you, the Kenyan public, are its first casualties.”
The death toll in the Garissa blitz has risen to 148, Interior Minister Joseph Nkaissery said late on Friday, adding that police were interviewing five suspects after making three additional arrests on Friday.
The Kenya Red Cross said it had found a woman survivor on Saturday in the university, two days after the siege ended.
The raid on Thursday was the deadliest in the east African nation since 1998, when al Qaeda bombed the U.S. embassy in the capital Nairobi and killed more than 200 people.
The bloodshed piled further pressure on President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has struggled to stem the violence that has dented Kenya’s image and ravaged the country’s vital tourism industry.
The timing of the attack has been embarrassing for Kenyatta, who a day earlier had berated Britain and Australia for putting out travel warnings over security threats to the country.
Local media, whose coverage has been uncharacteristically tame due to a new law that forbids them from showing images that would create “fear” among the public, have been skeptical about the government’s latest promise to halt the slaughter.
“The usual assurances that security is being beefed up and patrols intensified have become hollow,” the biggest-selling Daily Nation newspaper said in an editorial comment.
Foreign media published a photograph they said was taken by Kenyan police that showed more than 70 bodies, lying face down in a university hallway, each apparently shot in the head.
Read more: Yahoo News