Africa

Garissa university attack plotter Mohamed Kuno 'dead'

Mohamed Kuno - alleged to be the mastermaind behind the attack on the campus by Islamist militants, Garissa, Apr 2015 Image copyright Kenyan Interior Ministry
Image caption Mohamed Kuno was a headmaster in a school in Garissa before attacking the town

The leader of the attack on Garissa University in Kenya has been killed, officials in Somalia say.

Kenya's government said Mohamed Kuno was behind the attack in April 2015 that killed 148 people.

Regional forces in Somalia said he was one of 16 people killed in an overnight raid on a convoy in Kismayo, a port city in southern Somalia.

Four of those who died were reportedly senior members of the al-Shabab Islamist militant group.

The BBC's Africa security correspondent, Tomi Oladipo, said the news comes as a huge boost for Somalia and its allies in the fight against al-Shabab.

However, at least 10 people were killed on Wednesday by a car bomb outside a hotel in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, that was claimed by al-Shabab.

The news of Kuno's death was confirmed in a press conference held by Abdirashid Janan, the security minister in the Somali region of Jubaland.


Who was Mohamed Kuno?

After the Garissa attack, Kenya's government put up a $215,000 (£149,000) reward for Kuno's capture.

A Kenyan-Somali, he was a headmaster at a madrassa, or Islamic school, in Garissa until 2007.

But then he crossed the border into Somalia to join the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which at one point controlled much of the country.

When the UIC collapsed, he joined the militant group Hizbul Islam, which in 2010 merged with al-Shabab.

He had several aliases but was best known as Mohamed Dulyadin, which means ambidextrous in the Somali language. He was thought to be in mid-30s.


What happened in Garissa?

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The Garissa attack was the deadliest in Kenya for almost 20 years
Image copyright AP
Image caption Most of the Garissa victims were students

In the university attack on 2 April last year, four al-Shabab militants shot students in their dormitories before rounding up and killing dozens more.

The four gunmen were killed during the siege but it took 16 hours for anti-terrorism forces to bring the attack to an end.

It was the deadliest attack in Kenya since al-Qaeda's bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi in 1998, which killed 213 people.

It also came a year and half after al-Shabab fighters targeted the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, killing 67 people.

Kuno is alleged to have been behind several attacks on Kenyan soldiers who are fighting al-Shabab in Jubaland. He was also blamed for attacks on Kenyan civilians in Kenya itself.

Al-Shabab says it is retaliating for acts by Kenya's security forces, which are part of the African Union's mission in Somalia against the group.

1. Militants enter the university grounds, two guards are shot dead

2. Shooting begins within the campus

3. Students attacked in their classrooms while preparing for exams

4. Gunmen believed isolated in the female dormitories

5. Some students make an escape through the fence

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