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Thursday, April 2, 2015, 21:27

Manhunt launched for Kenya university attack

By Xinhua


Manhunt launched for Kenya university attack
Students of the Moi University leave after escaping an attack by Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab gumen in Garissa on April 2, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / STRINGER)

NAIROBI - Kenyan police on Thursday circulated a photo of a senior Al-Shabaab leader, whom they believe is behind the university attack in Garissa that has so far killed 17 and injured 65 others.

The police placed a US$54,350 bounty on the head of Mohamed Kuno, who is Al-Shabaab's military commander in Lower Juba region in southern Somalia. He is currently in charge of external operations against Kenya.

"He (Kuno) commands the militia along the border and is responsible for cross-border incursions in the country. In the recent past, he has intensified attacks in Northern Kenya and Coast region, particularly in Garissa, Mandera, Lamu," the police said.

Sources said the suspect was aided by two local youths to conduct surveillance on the Moi University Garissa campus.

The authorities said death toll could rise further after the militants stormed the university near the border with Somalia, taking students hostage and battling security forces for several hours.

 Manhunt launched for Kenya university attack
Kenyan police officers take cover outside the Moi University during an attack by gunmen in Garissa, Kenya, April 2, 2015. (Photo/IC)

Police and soldiers surrounded and sealed off the campus, and were attempting to flush out the gunmen, according to police chief Joseph Boinett.

The Al-Shabaab terror group, which has links to Al-Qaida network, has claimed responsibility for the 5:30 am raid, saying it was holding many Christian hostages inside.

According to police, Kuno is believed to be very religious and has been a Madrassa teacher for several years. He worked for Al- Haramain Foundation between 1993 and 1995 before the institution was closed. At the time he was known as Sheikh Mahamad.

The suspect later became a teacher and principal at Madarasa Najah in Garissa from 1997 to 2000, where his extremist tendencies became more manifested. He thereafter joined Al-Shabaab after being motivated by the ideology of Islamic Courts Union (ICU) to establish an Islamic statehood in Somalia.

It is reported that majority of the terror attacks in Garissa were carried out by former students of Madarasa Najah. Most of the recruits were drawn from close family members and clan mates.

Police said Kuno used the ideals of caliphate governance to persuade and recruit his students to join the ICU and later to join Al-Shabaab.

The militant group had established a Jabha Unit in every region of Somalia, and Kuno was charged with carrying out attacks against foreign troops.

He is also credited with having an extensive terrorist network within Kenya, particularly at the Dadaab refugee camp. Kuno claimed responsibility for last year's bus attack in Mandera where 28 people were killed.

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