Kenyans march for national security following horrific Garrisa massacre
Kenyans marched demanding greater national security Tuesday following last week’s massacre by Somalia’s Shebab Islamists, ahead of a candlelit vigil on the final day of mourning for the 148 people killed by the militants.
Hundreds of demonstrators waving placards and chanting slogans marched on the streets of the capital Nairobi and the northeastern town of Garissa, where the massacre was carried out.
Security forces meanwhile continued their hunt for those behind the university killings.
In Garissa, several hundred people gathered at a rally where both Muslim and Christian leaders called for unity, with local Muslim leader Abdullahi Salat condemning the “violent and evil attack”.
In Nairobi, some 200 students slapped vehicles with their hands as they marched through the streets, chanting “you are not safe, you are not safe!”
Maureen Mucheri, 21, an engineering student at Nairobi University, said she feared another attack, refusing to go into shopping malls and churches, because “the government is doing nothing”.
Some students carried flowers, others stopped to light candles.
“We are mourning the loss of our fellow comrades, we have lost the vibrant blood that would have built tomorrow’s Kenya,” Mucheri added.
A vigil is planned for early evening on the third and final day of national mourning.
Kenyan fighter jets pounded camps belonging to the al-Qaidalinked insurgents in southern Somalia on Monday, but anger has been growing over allegations that critical intelligence warnings were missed.
Special forces units took seven hours to reach the university in Garissa last Thursday, some 365 kilometers (225 miles) from the capital, as Shebab gunmen stormed dormitory buildings.
Fear of New Attack
The extremists lined up nonMuslim students for execution in what President Uhuru Kenyatta described as a “barbaric medieval slaughter”.
Students in the demonstration carried placards with the slogan “147 is not just a number”, referring to the death toll in the massacre - although that has since risen to 148.
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.
“We shall not forget,” the Standard newspaper front-page read, as news media printed the faces of those killed in the attack, even as scores of relatives continue an agonizing wait for the remains of their loved ones at the main mortuary in Nairobi.
Vigil organizer Boniface Mwangi, who has urged Kenyans to come with flowers and to dress in black for the vigil in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park — or “Freedom” in Swahili — has been deeply critical of the country’s security failings.
“Entrenched corruption in the security system allows Al-Shebab to move freely in and out of Kenya and carry out such attacks with ease,” said Mwangi, a civil society activist.
The army said Monday’s air strikes destroyed two Islamist bases, and followed a promise by Kenyatta that he would retaliate “in the severest way possible” against the Shebab militants for their attack last Thursday.
(Right) Kenyan students wearing black shirts to represent mourning hold candles as they march in memory of the victims of the Garissa college attack and to protest what they say is a lack of security, in downtown Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday, April 7.