By BosNewsLife Africa Service
NAIROBI, KENYA (BosNewsLife)– At least 147 people were killed on Thursday, April 2, when Islamist militant group al Shabaab stormed a Kenyan university campus in the town of Garissa taking Christians hostage and engaging security forces in an extended shootout.
“There are many dead bodies of Christians inside the building,” Al-Shabaab’s military spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab told reporters about the attack near the Somali border. “We are also holding many Christians alive. We sorted people out and released the Muslims. Fighting still goes on inside the college.”
President Uhuru Kenyatta confirmed in a speech to the nation that the attackers were holding hostages.
With scores of students wounded and hundreds unaccounted for, police and soldiers surrounded Garissa University College, witnesses said. They sealed off the compound and were trying to flush out the gunmen, Kenyan police chief Joseph Boinet told media
Interior Minister Joseph Nkaissery said 280 of the 815 students at the university had been accounted for and efforts were under way to track down the others, according to the Twitter feed of Kenya’s national disaster agency.
It did not say how many students remained trapped on the campus.
Some had managed to escape unaided. “We heard some gunshots and we were sleeping so it was around 5am and guys started jumping up and down running for their lives,” an unnamed student told Reuters TV.
Sixty-five people were wounded, the disaster agency said. Four had been airlifted to Nairobi for treatment.
DOZENS OF CASUALTIES
“We have 49 casualties so far, all with bullet and (shrapnel) wounds,” Reuters news agency quoted a doctor at Garissa hospital as saying.
Al Shabaab, which seeks to impose its own harsh version of sharia law, has separated Muslims from Christians in some of its previous raids in Kenya, notably late last year in attacks on a bus and at a quarry.
The group has links to al Qaeda and has pledged retaliation for Nairobi sending troops to fight it in its home state of Somalia, where it also killed Christians.
Authorities have offered a 20 million shilling ($215,000) reward for information leading to the arrest of a man called Mohamed Mohamud, described as “most wanted” and linked to the attack, Reuters news agency reported.
Churches in several areas of Africa are facing strict security measures this Easter amid fears of more Islamic attacks.