Kenya holds five over mass killing at Garissa Uni­ver­sity

Mil­i­tants is­sue fresh threats over ‘oc­cu­pa­tion’ of south­ern So­ma­lia

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY ADOW JU­BAT

Kenya said Satur­day it had ar­rested five men in con­nec­tion with the uni­ver­sity massacre by So­ma­lia’s al-Qaida-linked Shabab mil­i­tants that left nearly 150 peo­ple dead.

The ar­rests came as mil­i­tants warned of “an­other blood­bath” and a “long, grue­some war” un­less Kenya with­drew its troops from So­ma­lia.

Foren­sic po­lice of­fi­cers con­tin­ued to scour the site where one stu­dent shocked se­cu­rity forces by emerg­ing un­harmed from a wardrobe where she had hid­den for over two days.

A Kenya Red Cross spokes­woman said that the 19-year old was trau­ma­tized and de­hy­drated but phys­i­cally un­harmed and un­der­go­ing as­sess­ment by doc­tors.

In­te­rior min­istry spokesman, Mwenda Njoka, said five ar­rests had al­ready been made.

“Three were the co­or­di­na­tors who were ar­rested while try­ing to flee to So­ma­lia, two were ar­rested within the precincts of Garissa Uni­ver­sity,” he told AFP, not­ing that the four gun­men in the uni­ver­sity were killed on Thurs­day.

The name of the three sus­pected or­ga­niz­ers were not given, but Njoka said the two ar­rested on cam­pus in­cluded a se­cu­rity guard at the uni­ver­sity, and a Tan­za­nian named as Rashid Charles Mbere­sero.

Mbere­sero was re­port­edly ar­rested on the cam­pus on Fri­day, found hid­ing as peo­ple car­ried out the grim work of clear­ing piles of bod­ies.

“He was hid­ing in the ceil­ing of the uni­ver­sity and had grenades,” Njoka said, while the guard, a Kenyan of eth­nic So­mali ori­gin, was named as Os­man Ali Da­gane.

He is sus­pected of help­ing the gun­men, and was found “in pos­ses­sion of ji­hadist ma­te­ri­als,” Njoka added.

A US$215,000 (200,000-euro) bounty has also been of­fered for al­leged Shabab com­man­der Mo­hamed Mo­hamud, a for­mer Kenyan teacher be­lieved to now be in So­ma­lia and said to be the mas­ter­mind be­hind the Garissa attack.

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

Shabab Threat

Just be­fore dark­ness fell, Kenyan troops moved in on the dor­mi­tory where the gun­men were holed up, ap­par­ently determined to pre­vent a drawn-out siege like that seen in the West­gate shop­ping mall in Nairobi in Septem­ber 2013, also car­ried out by Shabab fighters.

The mil­i­tants vowed more at­tacks against Kenya, which in­vaded south­ern So­ma­lia in 2011 and is now fight­ing along­side the African Union force bat­tling the Shabab.

“We will ... stop at noth­ing to avenge the deaths of our Mus­lim broth­ers un­til your gov­ern­ment ceases its op­pres­sion and un­til all Mus­lim lands are lib­er­ated from Kenyan oc­cu­pa­tion,” the Shabab said in a state­ment re­leased Satur­day.

“Un­til then, Kenyan cities will run red with blood ... this will be a long, grue­some war of which you, the Kenyan public, are its first ca­su­al­ties.”

On Fri­day, United States em­bassy ve­hi­cles were seen en­ter­ing the cam­pus — in past at­tacks in­clud­ing the West­gate massacre, FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tors helped Kenyan po­lice with foren­sic ex­am­i­na­tions.

“Foren­sics and in­ves­ti­ga­tions are still go­ing on,” Njoka said.

The Shabab on Fri­day de­scribed how they had specif­i­cally sin­gled out non-Mus­lims to kill, gath­er­ing them to­gether be­fore ex­e­cut­ing them.

Warn­ings Missed

Sur­vivors who hid from the attack have re­counted how the gun­men called on peo­ple to come out of their dor­mi­tory bed­rooms and lie on the ground face down, but then killed them.

A pho­to­graph seen by AFP from in­side the build­ing showed over 50 stu­dents squeezed to­gether ly­ing down on the ground, all them ap­par­ently ex­e­cuted where they lay.

Sur­vivors also re­counted how the gun­men taunted stu­dents be­fore killing them.

“The mu­ja­hedeen stormed the uni­ver­sity com­pound and swiftly pro­ceeded to the halls of res­i­dence where they had gath­ered all the oc­cu­pants,” the Shabab state­ment said.

“And since the attack tar­geted only non-Mus­lims, all Mus­lims were al­lowed to safely evac­u­ate the premises be­fore ex­e­cut­ing the dis­be­liev­ers.”

Emer­gency work­ers com­pleted the task of col­lect­ing bod­ies on Fri­day, with the fi­nal toll de­clared as 148, with all the corpses flown to the cap­i­tal Nairobi, where griev­ing fam­i­lies wait to re­ceive the re­mains of their loved ones.

For the trau­ma­tized sur­vivors still in Garissa, stu­dents on Satur­day waited out­side the uni­ver­sity com­pound to col­lect their be­long­ings be­fore be­ing taken to the cap­i­tal Nairobi. The col­lege has been or­dered to be closed in­def­i­nitely.

There has been grow­ing crit­i­cism in the me­dia that crit­i­cal in­tel­li­gence warn­ings were missed.

Kenya’s Na­tional Union of Teach­ers have called for ex­tra se­cu­rity mea­sures, warn­ing ad­vis­ing “all teach­ers in northen Kenya to leave if they feel un­safe.”

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