Kenya in Easter mourn­ing for massacre vic­tims


Kenya on Sun­day be­gan three days of na­tional mourn­ing for the 148 peo­ple, mostly stu­dents, mas­sa­cred by So­ma­lia’s al- Shabab mil­i­tants at a uni­ver­sity in Garissa.

Easter church ser­vices through­out the coun­try in­cluded prayers for the vic­tims of Thurs­day’s attack, with flags also at half mast.

Although Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta has vowed to re­tal­i­ate “in the sever­est way pos­si­ble,” there have also been calls for na­tional unity.

Keny­atta said peo­ple’s “jus­ti­fied anger” should not lead to “the vic­tim­iza­tion of any­one” a clear ref­er­ence to Kenya’s large Mus­lim and eth­nic So­mali mi­nori­ties.

Au­thor­i­ties mean­while an­nounced that they had iden­ti­fied one of the four dead Shabab gun­men as an eth­nic-So­mali and Kenyan na­tional who was a A-grade pupil and law grad­u­ate high­light­ing the al-Qaida-linked Shabab’s abil­ity to re­cruit within Kenya.

In­te­rior min­istry spokesman Mwenda Njoka said it was “crit­i­cal that par­ents whose chil­dren go miss­ing or show ten­den­cies of hav­ing been ex­posed to vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism re­port to au­thor­i­ties.”

The mil­i­tants at­tacked the uni­ver­sity at dawn, and lined up nonMus­lim stu­dents for ex­e­cu­tion in what Keny­atta de­scribed as a “bar­baric me­dieval slaugh­ter.”

The massacre, Kenya’s dead­li­est attack since the 1998 bomb­ing of the U.S. em­bassy in Nairobi, claimed the lives of 142 stu­dents, three po­lice of­fi­cers and three sol­diers.

“The ter­ri­ble events in Garissa are still fresh in our minds and heart, but to­day is a day for new hope,” Kenyan Angli­can Arch­bishop Eliud Wabukala told a packed cathe­dral in Nairobi, as armed sol­diers pa­trolled out­side.

“Th­ese ter­ror­ists want to cause scare and di­vi­sions in our so­ci­ety, but we shall tell them, you will never pre­vail,” he said.

Top Mus­lim leader Has­san Ole Naado also of­fered his con­do­lences.

“Kenya is at war, and we must all stand to­gether,” Naado said, deputy head of the Supreme Coun­cil of Kenya Mus­lims, say­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion was help­ing to raise money for the fu­ner­als of those killed and med­i­cal costs of the scores wounded.

“We deeply feel the pain of the loss of young lives,” he added in a state­ment, warn­ing that the Shabab was aim­ing to “cre­ate re­li­gious con­flict.”

Po­lit­i­cal and re­li­gious lead­ers have con­demned the at­tacks.

Pope Fran­cis called the killings “sense­less bru­tal­ity,” while the Cairo- based top Sunni Mus­lim body al-Azhar has con­demned the “ter­ror­ist act com­mit­ted by So­ma­lia’s Shabab.”

Se­cu­rity Forces Crit­i­cized

On Satur­day, the Shabab warned of a “long, grue­some war” un­less Kenya with­drew its troops from So­ma­lia, and threat­ened “an­other blood­bath.”

The Shabab also car­ried out the West­gate shop­ping mall attack in Nairobi in Septem­ber 2013, a four-day siege which left at least 67 dead.

Hours af­ter the Shabab’s warn­ing, po­lice in Garissa pa­raded four corpses of the gun­men piled on top of each other face down in the back of a pick-up truck fol­lowed by a huge crowd.

Five men have also been ar­rested in con­nec­tion with the attack, in­clud­ing three “co­or­di­na­tors” cap­tured as they fled to­wards So­ma­lia, and two oth­ers in the uni­ver­sity.

The two ar­rested on cam­pus in­cluded a se­cu­rity guard and a Tan­za­nian found “hid­ing in the ceil­ing” and hold­ing grenades, the in­te­rior min­istry said.

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


A rel­a­tive reacts af­ter see­ing her kin in Nairobi on Satur­day, April 4.

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