Al Shabaab attack on small college leaves 147 dead
The death toll in Thursday’s attack on a small college in Kenya has risen to 147, including four terrorists, after the Islamist organization al Shabaab stormed a Christian prayer service on the campus.
The carnage is far greater than the group’s attack on shopping mall in Nairobi in September 2013, which left 67 people dead.
CNN quoted a witness saying that gunmen burst into early morning Christian prayers at Garissa University College, northeast of Nairobi. Taking hostages from the service, the gunmen then "proceeded to the hostels, shooting anybody they came across except their fellows, the Muslims," the witness said.
The Somalia-based al Shabaab, affiliated with al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the assault, calling it an "operation against the infidels." Garissa is about 90 miles from the border with Somalia. Taking advantage of a porous border, al Shabaab militants have often launched attacks inside Kenya ever since the Kenyan government sent troops across the border to fight the group, CNN noted.
The attackers separated students by religion, allowing Muslims to leave and keeping an unknown number of Christians hostage, Agence France-Press reported.
Reportedly, there had been a security warning that Al Shabaab would attack a large university in Kenya, so the University of Nairobi which has a very high population, was on alert. Garissa, apparently, was not.
"To me this is a cowardly and distressing attack on the softest of civilian targets for the maximum impact," commented Khataza Gondwe, team leader for Africa and the Middle East of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, in an email. "Once again, al Shabaab has separated hostages by their faith, allegedly releasing Muslims in an attack launched as one of the most signigicant dates in the Christian calendar approaches."
"It’s very sad and shocking and honestly, I’m at a loss for words," said Bertina Kanaka, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Mombasa, in an email. "I spoke with a [Justice and Peace] coordinator of the Diocese of Garissa, and he tells me they can see, even now, bodies being removed from the college. It’s sad."