Kenya shocked, de­fi­ant af­ter 147 mas­sa­cred

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY ADOW JU­BAT

Griev­ing rel­a­tives were Fri­day search­ing for news or the re­mains of their loved ones af­ter So­ma­lia’s al- Shabab Is­lamists mas­sa­cred 147 in a uni­ver­sity in north­east­ern Kenya.

The day-long siege of Garissa Uni­ver­sity was Kenya’s dead­li­est attack since the 1998 U.S. em­bassy bomb­ings and the big­gest ever by the al-Qaida-af­fil­i­ated mil­i­tants, although the Kenyan gov­ern­ment vowed it would not be “in­tim­i­dated.”

Sur­vivors re­counted how the gun­men from So­ma­lia’s Shabab fighters taunted stu­dents be­fore killing them, in­clud­ing forc­ing them to call their par­ents to urge them to call for Kenyan troops to leave So­ma­lia — be­fore then still shoot­ing them.

As the gun­men prowled the uni­ver­sity rooms hunt­ing down more peo­ple to kill, some stu­dents smeared blood from their dead friends over their bod­ies to pre­tend they too had been shot.

The day-long siege ended with all four of the gun­men det­o­nat­ing sui­cide vests in a hail of heavy gun­fire. At least 79 peo­ple were also wounded in the attack on the cam­pus, which lies near the bor­der with So­ma­lia.

On Fri­day, a huge crowd of trau­ma­tized and shocked sur­vivors and rel­a­tives of those killed or miss­ing gath­ered at the uni­ver­sity gate.

“I am so wor­ried, I had a son who was among the stu­dents trapped in­side the col­lege, and since yes­ter­day I have heard noth­ing,” said Ha­bel Mutinda, an el­derly man, his face stream­ing with tears.

“I tried to iden­tify his body among those killed ... I have to do that be­fore the body goes bad in the heat ... I have been camp­ing overnight, it is re­ally hard, it hurts.”

Emer­gency work­ers set about col­lect­ing the bod­ies, while Kenyan sol­diers pa­trolled the cam­pus.

Vis­it­ing the scene of the car­nage, Kenya’s In­te­rior Min­is­ter Joseph Nkaissery vowed that the coun­try would not bow to ter­ror­ist threats.

“Kenya’s gov­ern­ment will not be in­tim­i­dated by the ter­ror­ists who have made killing in­no­cent peo­ple a way to hu­mil­i­ate the gov­ern­ment,” he told re­porters, promis­ing the gov­ern­ment will “fight back.”

“I am con­fi­dent we shall win this war against our enemies.”

‘Re­move your sol­diers from

So­ma­lia’

Hurl­ing grenades and fir­ing au­to­matic ri­fles, the gun­men had stormed the uni­ver­sity at dawn as stu­dents were sleep­ing, shoot­ing dead dozens be­fore set­ting Mus­lims free and hold­ing Chris­tians and oth­ers hostage.

In the fi­nal hour be­fore dark­ness fell, Kenyan troops stormed a stu- dent dor­mi­tory where the gun­men were holed up as blasts and fierce gun­fire rang out.

Hun­dreds of stu­dents — many of whom es­caped in lit­tle more than what they were sleep­ing in — spent Thurs­day night at nearby mil­i­tary bar­racks, where they were fed and given clothes.

Mau­reen Manyengo, a 21-yearold ed­u­ca­tion stu­dent from west­ern Kenya, said she hid in­side her wardrobe af­ter see­ing sev­eral friends killed.

“I could hear the at­tack­ers telling my friends, ‘Do not worry, we will kill you but we will die too’” she re­called.

“I could also hear them, say­ing ‘You will only be safe the day your pres­i­dent re­moves the sol­diers from So­ma­lia.’”

Sev­eral buses were due to trans­port the trau­ma­tized stu­dents back to their home ar­eas, while the bod­ies of those killed were be­ing flown back to the cap­i­tal Nairobi.

Dozens of fam­ily mem­bers also gath­ered Fri­day at the main Nairobi mor­tu­ary to iden­tify their rel­a­tives.

The uni­ver­sity siege marks the worst attack on Kenyan soil since the 1998 bomb­ing of the U.S. em­bassy in Nairobi by al-Qaida, when 213 peo­ple were killed by a huge truck bomb.

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

Dur­ing Thurs­day’s attack, Sha­hab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mo­hamud Rage said the killings were in re­venge for the pres­ence of Kenyan troops in So­ma­lia as part of the African Union’s force backed the coun­try’s in­ter­na­tion­ally backed gov­ern­ment.

“Kenya is at war with So­ma­lia,” Rage said.

News­pa­pers on Fri­day were crit­i­cal that in­tel­li­gence warn­ings had been missed.

“The attack was pre­ceded by a num­ber of in­tel­li­gence alarm bells,” The Star news­pa­per ed­i­to­rial read, de­mand­ing that such warn­ings must be acted upon.

But news­pa­pers also called for na­tional unity in the wake of the killings.

“Even as we strug­gle to rise from the rub­ble of yes­ter­day’s attack, we must once again re­al­ize what the en­emy wants to trig­ger,” The Stan­dard’s ed­i­to­rial read.

“They want an in­ter­nal war in Kenya, the kind of which will trig­ger de­struc­tion and blood-let­ting they would want to see,” it added.

AP

Medics help an in­jured per­son at Keny­atta Na­tional Hos­pi­tal in Nairobi, Kenya on Thurs­day, April 2, af­ter be­ing air­lifted from Garissa fol­low­ing an attack by gun­men at Garissa Uni­ver­sity Col­lege in north­east­ern Kenya on Thurs­day morn­ing.

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