The Kenyan military has killed more than 100 al-Shabab militants linked to a deadly attack on a bus, Kenya’s deputy president says.
William Ruto said the armed forces had carried out two operations in Somalia, destroying equipment and a camp from which the bus attack was planned.
However, al-Shabab refuted this, and said that its fighters were safe.
In Saturday’s attack, gunmen pulled non-Muslims passengers from a bus in northern Kenya, killing 28 of them.
Al-Shabab has carried out a series of attacks in Kenya since 2011, the year that Kenya sent troops into Somalia to help battle the Islamist group.
Mr Ruto gave details of the military operation after attending a Sunday service at a church in Nyahururu.
“I can assure you that those behind the attack did not even take their supper,” he was quoted as saying by the Standard newspaper.
[contextly_sidebar id=”YUR11dw2jq7N6OEeJrp0PgM3SZuMo0in”]”They were killed by our officers who we sent out immediately after the attack. They did not find time to celebrate their heinous crime.”
He said security officials were in “full control” and urged other leaders to co-operate with the government rather than criticise it.
Kenya’s ministry of defence said in a statement that a total of 115 al-Shabab militants had been killed over the weekend, as ground troops and fighter jets attacked militants near the Kenyan-Somali border, and two al-Shabab camps in Somalia.
In a statement, al-Shabab called the government’s words “absurd” and said that its fighters “didn’t face any attack whatsoever”.
In Saturday’s bus attack in Mandera county, close to the Somali border, witnesses described how passengers were asked to recite passages from the Koran and those who failed were made to lie on the ground before being shot in the head.
Afterwards, at least one local official said that pleas for extra security in the area had gone unanswered.
On Sunday, Mandera Governor Ali Roba called on the government to “reshuffle” its entire security team in the region, saying that officers did not follow up on cases and that a state of insecurity was considered normal.
“Many suspects who are apprehended are released from cells under unknown circumstances, even when there is evidence of their involvement in crime,” Mr Roba told Kenya’s Daily Nation.
Somalia-based al-Shabab said it had carried out Saturday’s attack in retaliation for a government crackdown on mosques in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa that were allegedly used by extremists. Security forces seized weapons during the raids.
Mr Ruto said such police operations would not stop.
“We will not allow our praying places to be used as armoury,” he said. “This operation is going to happen no matter what.”
He also called on Muslim religious leaders to help ensure that mosques were not taken over by extremists.