Kenya al-Shabab attack: Victims’ bodies sent to Nairobi

Kenya Defence Force soldier runs for cover at Garissa campus, 2 Apr 15(BBC NEWS) The bodies of many of those killed by Islamist militants at a Kenyan university are being moved to the capital Nairobi for identification.

At least 147 people died when al-Shabab militants stormed Garissa University in north-eastern Kenya, near Somalia.

The mortuaries in Garissa have been unable to cope, and many of the students killed came from other parts of the country.

Four of the gunmen involved were killed by security forces.

The BBC’s Anne Soy saw ambulances leaving the Garissa campus on Friday. Hundreds of survivors are also being sent home, and our correspondent saw students with suitcases boarding buses.

Burials for the Muslims killed in the attack are expected to start taking place.

A dusk-to-dawn curfew has been imposed across north-eastern Kenya.

It took several hours for Kenyan troops to overpower the militants at the campus

Christians targeted

The masked attackers rampaged through the campus at dawn on Thursday, shooting and shouting “we are al-Shabab”.

At the scene: Wanyama wa Chebusiri, BBC Africa, Garissa:

A second-year student who hid for 10 hours in a wardrobe is one of about 500 survivors still being held at a military facility, where they are undergoing counselling.

Some of the Garissa University students who were rescued, comfort each other at the Garissa military camp, in Garissa town

Her father drove for four hours from Nairobi when he was unable to get hold of her during the siege. He told the BBC about his desperate search for his daughter at the mortuary, hospital and military airstrip. Late in the afternoon, when he had almost given up hope, he got a text: “Dad call me”. They have yet to be reunited but his relief is palpable.

Questions are being asked about the university’s security. One survivor, who hid in bushes for five hours, told the BBC that students had raised the issue at the end of last year, but only two armed guards had been provided. One of the few students from the local community, he said he would never set foot on the campus again.

Eyewitnesses describe attack

The heavily armed gunmen killed two security guards first, then fired indiscriminately at students, many of whom were still asleep in their dormitories. They singled out Christians and shot them, witnesses said.

Eric Wekesa, a student at Garissa, told Reuters he locked himself in his room before eventually fleeing.

“What I managed to hear from them is ‘We came to kill or finally be killed.’ That’s what they said.”

How attack unfolded

1. Militants enter the university grounds, two guards are shot dead

2. Shooting begins within the campus

3. Students attacked in their classrooms while preparing for exams

4. Gunmen believed isolated in the female dormitories

5. Some students make an escape through the fence

Attack as it happened

Garissa University map

Who are al-Shabab?

Who is suspected mastermind?

More than 20 security officers were killed by a sniper at the university, the BBC’s Caroline Karobia reports.

The gunmen were eventually cornered in a dormitory by Kenyan security forces. Four of them died when their suicide vests detonated. A fifth gunman was reportedly arrested.

More than 500 students managed to escape.

Shaken students have been leaving the Garissa campus by bus

Survivors boarding bus in Garissa, 3 Apr 15

Kenya Defence Force soldiers are patrolling the campus now

Al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, said it carried out the attack. The group says it is at war with Kenya, which sent troops to Somalia in 2011 to fight the militants.

Al-Shabab was also blamed for the Westgate Mall massacre in Nairobi in 2013 in which 67 people died.

Kenyan authorities are to hold an emergency meeting to assess security in the region. There has been criticism that Garissa should have been better protected.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered “urgent steps” to ensure police recruits could begin training immediately. “We have suffered unnecessarily due to shortage of security personnel,” he said.

The government has offered a reward of $53,000 (£36,000) for the man it says planned the killing – Mohamed Kuno, a former Kenyan schoolteacher, now thought to be in Somalia.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud condemned the attack, in a statement quoted by Somali state radio.

He said it showed the need for a co-ordinated effort against al-Shabab militants.

“I am sure we will defeat these terrorists. Kenya is a brotherly nation that has extended its support to us, which the terrorists don’t want. The aim of the terrorists is to dispirit us, but they will not succeed in that,” he said.

Are you in the Kenyan town of Garissa? Did you witness the attack in the town’s university? Are you affected by the attack? You can share your experiences by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

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