More than 70 people were killed Thursday, after armed terrorists attacked a university in northern Kenya. At least 79 others were injured, while 500 students were rescued by military forces.
According to Kenyan Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, the number of deaths could still rise as soldiers clear up the area close to the Garissa University campus, where the massacre occurred. The Islamic terrorist group al-Shabab, based in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the attack, which started early on Thursday morning.
The Kenya National Disaster Operation Center announced that rescue and fighting operations were still ongoing. Kenya’s National Police Service said that four terrorists had been killed by their forces.
Heavy gunfire was reported at the university as the Kenyan military intervened to stop the massacre. Local authorities announced that 533 students were being held hostage and that 282 had been saved. The total number of students at the college is 815. Sixty staff members, including the principal, were also captured by the Islamic fighters.
According to witnesses, the gunmen separated Christians from Muslims. Explosives were reportedly fixed around the Christian hostages, which were being held in a single dorm room. Kenyan military had taken control of the other two main buildings on campus.
One suspect was arrested while trying to flee the scene after the attack, police said. Kenyan police forces announced that they are offering a $220,000 bounty for Mohammed Mohamud, whom they believe is the mastermind of this brutal attack. Some students were able to escape early in the attack. They said that the terrorists were shooting people and setting off explosives.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has made an appeal for calm in the country. “This is a moment for everyone throughout the country to be vigilant as we continue to confront and defeat our enemies,” said the Kenyan leader.
He also ordered the inspector-general of police to raise by 10,000 the number of recruits in the Kenya Police College. “Kenya badly needs additional officers, and I will not keep the nation waiting,” said Kenyatta.
According to students, the gunmen attended morning prayers at the campus mosque before the attack. Most of the victims were taken to the Garissa Level Five Hospital. An aircraft occupied by doctors left for the town to assist and transport the critically wounded to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.
Al-Shabab is no stranger to attacks in Kenya. The terrorist organisation has carried out several attacks in the past few years, It was responsible for the 2013 attack at the a Nairobi mall, which left 67 people dead.
Image Source: NBC News