In the early hours of Thursday, the 2nd of April, at least four gunmen who had themselves strapped with explosives and other forms of ammunition stormed the gates of Garissa University in the northern part of Kenya and started shooting at people indiscriminately at the beginning but as a pattern began to slowly emerge, it seemed clear that they were targeting Christians. These were the militia of the Islamist group El-Shabaab. After a siege by the Kenyan security forces which lasted as much as fifteen hours, it emerged that at least 147 people had been killed, including the four gunmen.
This is the second worst disaster to befall the ‘Horn of Africa’ after the 1998 bombings of the American Embassies in both Kenya and Tanzania, which resulted in the death of 224 people and the wounding of thousands others. Next was the Westgate Mall attack which happened in 2013 and developed into a messy hostage situation in which a total of 67 people were killed. Again, in this disaster, the same number of gunmen was used. However, the hostage situation lasted several days as opposed to the most recent situation, which only lasted for at least 15 hours but resulted in the death of more people.
According to eye witness accounts and news reports, the four gunmen arrived at the Garrisa University Campus and started shooting at the students, most of whom were still sleeping. According to the reports, the four gunmen were focusing their attention on Christians and sparing Muslims. Most of the Christian students were either killed or taken hostage. According to one student who was quoted on Reuters TV, “We heard some gunshots and we were sleeping so it was around five and guys started jumping up and down running for their lives.”
The police were immediately called onto the scene and, together with soldiers, surrounded the college campus and spent the whole day exchanging gunfire with the gunmen but were successful in the end to put an end to the terrorist attack. This was confirmed by the Interior Minister Joseph Nkaissery, who said, “The operation has ended successfully. Four terrorists have been killed.” It was also announced that a certain gunman by the name of Mohamed Mohamud, described as “most wanted”, who was linked to the attack, was being sought by authorities, who were offering a 20 million shilling ($215,000) reward for information leading to his arrest. Police chief Boinet said they had also imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on four regions near the Somalia border in an attempt to control the situation and the infiltration of that part of the border.