Many Dead In Brutal al-Shabab Attack at Kenyan University

Vivian Hughbanks
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Posted: Apr 02, 2015 11:25 AM
Many Dead In Brutal al-Shabab Attack at Kenyan University

UPDATE 2:39 p.m.: 147 deaths confirmed by Kenyan Disaster Operations.

UPDATE 2:04 p.m.: Death toll in Garissa could be up to 150, the AP reports. The situation is over. Four of the jihadists are confirmed dead. A 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. curfew has been set on several counties in the region for security purposes. The attack is the most deadly since the 1998 Al Qaeda bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, which killed 213 people.

UPDATE 12:12 p.m.: Somali Islamic terror group al-Shabab has officially claimed responsibility for the attack, and has claimed to have separated Muslims hostages from non-Muslims.

UPDATE 12:01 p.m.: Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Interior Joseph Ole Nkaissery has announced that the death toll at Garissa University is now 70 -- making the attack more deadly than the 2013 Westgate Mall siege. 79 are seriously injured. Also, 500 students have been rescued. Nkaissery announced that 90 percent of the threat has been eliminated.

UPDATE: Two militants have been killed at Garissa.

Before dawn on Thursday morning, Somali al-Shabab militants attacked Garissa University in Kenya -- just over 200 miles from Nairobi.

So far, at least 21 are confirmed dead from the attack -- many put the number much higher, with many more wounded. The gunmen have taken prisoners, and reports indicate some have been beheaded. Kenya Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery has said that 533 students are currently being held hostage, and 282 have been rescued.

“It was around five [in the morning], and guys started jumping up and down, running for their lives,” a witness said, according to Kenyan News 24. “But where they were going to is where the gunshots were coming from... We went to the field, sat there, and the gunshots continued... This made us to run to the fence so that we can get away out from the school. Some jumped, some opened some openings from the fence and got out.”

According to reports, the militants targeted Christians in the attack: 

Collins Wetangula, who is also the vice chairperson of the Garissa University College students union told News24 that he heard the attackers question students whether they were Christian or Muslim before attacking them.

He said he heard gunshots and when he looked outside the window, he saw masked men shooting. He then locked fellow students in his room and sat tight.

"They were shouting loudly that they are al-Shabaab and that that we should all be afraid," he said of the beginning of the attack.

Claims have been made that there were warning signs prior to the attack:

Kenya’s Interior Ministry has put a bounty of 2 million Kenyan Shillings -- or more than $200,000 -- on Mohamed Kuno, the man they believe to be the mastermind of the attack.

Kuno is also believed to be responsible for the bus attack last November, when more than 100 al-Shabab gunman shot 28 non-muslims when they were unable to recite a portion of the Quran. Al-Shabab was also responsible for the deadly siege of Westage Mall in Nairobi in 2013.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered 10,000 pending police recruits to report immediately for training at the nation’s Police College in Kiganjo.

“I take full responsibility for this directive. We have suffered unnecessarily due to shortage of security personnel. Kenya badly needs additional officers, and I will not keep the nation waiting,” Kenyatta said in a statement.

Wounded from Garissa have been taken to Langata Barracks in Nairobi.

Just yesterday at a conference, Kenyatta criticized other nations for keeping travel advisories in effect for Kenya.