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Somalia calls for closer security ties after `barbaric` Kenya massacre

Somalia and Kenya must boost security cooperation between them, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said on Friday, as he offered his condolences a day after "barbaric" Islamist gunmen massacred 147 students.

Mogadishu: Somalia and Kenya must boost security cooperation between them, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said on Friday, as he offered his condolences a day after "barbaric" Islamist gunmen massacred 147 students.

Mohamud said he mourned the "lives of innocent students" killed in the university in the northeastern Kenyan town of Garissa, offering his "condolences to the families of those who have died in this attack by the merciless terrorists."

The attack on Thursday was claimed by al Qaeda-linked Shebab fighters, with all four of the gunmen detonating suicide vests after killing 147 people in the day-long seige.

Mohamud said in a statement that the killings showed "the need to reinforce the anti-terror cooperation between the two countries, with the aim to eliminate this menace from the region."

Kenya has been hit by a wave of grenade and gun attacks, often blamed on sympathisers of the Shebab and sometimes aimed at police targets, since the army crossed into southern Somalia in 2011 to attack Islamist bases, later joining the African Union force fighting them.

AU chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on Friday said the killings were "cowardly", and praised Kenya for "its outstanding contribution to the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the huge sacrifices made towards stabilizing that country."

The Shebab also carried out the Westgate shopping mall massacre in Nairobi in September 2013, when four gunmen killed at least 67 people in a four-day siege.

"I am quite certain that we will defeat these terrorist groups," Mohamud added.

"Kenyans have sacrificed their lives to bring peace into our country, and I am aware that the terrorists are not happy with that support. Their acts will not hamper our struggle to root out terrorism and bring peace and prosperity to this region."