Tragic news from Garissa in Kenya broke today as al-Shabab Islamist militants broke into the Garissa Univeristy through the gates after shooting and killing the two guardsmen on duty there before walking into the campus and opening fire on students in classrooms, the library, and dormitories. Before the siege had ended, 147 were confirmed killed with 79 more injured, 9 of whom had to be airlifted and are listed in critical condition.
Garissa is one of the four counties in Kenya that border with Somalia in the east, and it is believed the al-Shabab militants could have originated from the neighboring country where the group is headquartered. Overnight curfews in the four neighboring counties have been ordered and at this time Kenyan officials have stated that all remaining students have been accounted for.
Hunting the Suspects
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has offered his condolences to the victims’ families affected by the tragedy. The Kenyan government has since named high ranking al-Shabab officer Mohamed Kuno as the leading suspect/mastermind behind the attack, naming a $217,000 reward for his death or capture. The US and UN have already pledged to help Kenya at this time in helping gather groups to fight al-Shabab in the area.
al-Shabab has previously reported to the BBC as the news broke that their militants were freeing Muslim based students while killing Christian ones on sight. Multiple eyewitnesses reported there to be “shooting everywhere” and one eyewitness, Collins Wetangula who is also a student at the university, said he could hear the men breaking into the dormitories to ask if they were Muslim or Christian. He went on to say that those that answered Christian were shot on sight while the Muslim students were given an opportunity to escape.
The attack is another dark even in an ongoing series of turmoil involving Kenya and al-Shabab. Attacks in Kenya prior to 2011 provoked the Kenyan government to send troops into Somalia in October of 2011 to try and stamp out the Islamist extremists but since then the violence from al-Shabab has only risen.