Students trickle back to Kenya university nine months after massacre

Students trickled back on Monday for classes at a university in northeastern Kenya where at least 148 people were killed by Islamist gunmen nine months ago.

Security was tight but only around 20 students resumed classes at Garissa university, which had about 800 students before the massacre.

The high-profile assault on April 2, 2015 was the deadliest yet in Kenya by the Somali-led, Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab group. Nearly all the victims were students.

Emotions were mixed for those returning.

“I am very happy for the reopening… we went for our first lesson and we are really back to the university as normal,” said Shamza Abdi, a student.

“There are some memories of a lot of our friends we lost here, but despite what happened, life must go on… we just pray for our friends,” she added.

The gunmen had lined up non-Muslim students for execution in what President Uhuru Kenyatta described at the time as a “barbaric medieval slaughter”.

The massacre was Kenya’s deadliest attack since the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi.

Most students, especially those who were not originally from Garissa, have transferred to other colleges. The students now returning are mainly those who come from the town, some 365 kilometres (225 miles) north of the capital Nairobi.

– Security tightened –

“We are really missing those students who were killed, and we are very bitter about it…the people of this area were really affected,” said Hassan Kune Mire.

“It is very important for us that learning has resumed, and that we shall continue with our education.”

University principal Ahmed Osman Warfa, speaking last week when teachers returned, said security had been tightened with a new police post built within the compound and a perimeter fence planned.

“I wish I was armed and trained on the use of firearms on that night, I would have fought with the attackers and at least ensure I have saved some of my students from their killers,” the principal said.

Witnesses last week gave evidence in the ongoing trial of five men accused of supporting the attack.

The four gunmen who carried out the massacre were all killed when Kenyan commandos stormed the building.

Survivors described how the laughing gunmen taunted their victims amid scenes of total carnage.

Students, some who had to play dead among the pools of blood of their friends until they were rescued, said the gunmen shouted “We have come to kill and be killed” as they prowled the student dormitories shooting those they found.

The Garissa attack followed the 2013 seige of the upmarket Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, when four Shebab gunmen killed at least 67 people.

Last month Kenyan police warned of the risk of fresh attacks by Shebab insurgents, claiming they had split into rival factions inside Kenya, with some shifting allegiance from Al-Qaeda to Islamic State.

The militants say their attacks are retaliation for the Kenyan military presence in Somalia and “war crimes” committed by Kenyan troops.

Inside Somalia, they fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu, which is protected by 22,000 African Union troops, including Kenyan soldiers.

Photo Credits : AFP

Garissa University Memorial concert

After the death of 148 people both students and security officers following the grisly attack at the Garissa University college, activists, artists, poets, friends, families, colleagues and Kenyans from all walks of life gathered at the freedom corner at Uhuru park gardens for a memorial concert.

The memorial was organised by Boniface Mwangi and friends who got overwhelming support from corporates and other well wishers.

The concerts saw perfomances by poets who recited their pieces of spoken word, singer Amos and Josh performed their song Baadaye alongside Rabbit as a tribute to the fallen.

Some of the performances brought the crowd to tears despite the fact that some of the attendees were not familiar with any of the victims but chose to stand with their families and friends.

There was a board that had 148 masks with names representing each of the victims of the attack.

memorial 2
Image – Garissa University Facebook page
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Image – Garissa University Facebook page

memorial4 promemorial

 

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Image courtesy of Vincent
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Image courtesy of Vincent
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Image courtesy of Vincent

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Tribute to those killed in the terror attack on Garissa University (video)

On April 2, 2015, individuals wielding guns stormed the Garissa University College, in the wee hours of the morning as some of the students were heading for prayers and some prepared for class.

The gunmen opened fire at the students, leaving 147 dead.

A public vigil was held on the 7th of April at Uhuru Park’s Freedom Corner in memory of the lives lost in the attack.

Their memories will be carried in the hearts of their friends, families, colleagues and the Kenyan community at large.

This video with the song See You Again by Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth is a special tribute to those shattered dreams and lost lives.

#147isnotjustanumber they have names, they had lives, they had dreams and they will be remembered.

R.I.P

#147isnotjustanumber Uhuru park vigil (photos)

A prayer meeting was held at the freedom corner at the Uhuru park for the victims of the Garissa University attack.

Here is a photo summary of what happened.

1
Images of some of the students who were killed
2
Board with pictures of the slain students
3 survivors
Students who survived the attack came to pay tribute to their departed friends
4
Families, friends and members of the public, put up 147 crosses to represent each of the departed
5
A man lights a candle to represent the life of one of the deceased students
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Students from Maseno University
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Graffiti art at the freedom corner
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Graffiti artist drawing a tribute in honour of the deceased

 

Credits : Boniface Mwangi /KOT 

 

#147isnotjustanumber vigil at Uhuru Park

Following the death of 147 people in a gun attack at the Garissa University, the Kenyan online community has come up with the harsh tag #147isnotjustanumber  used to show solidarity with the families, friends and colleagues of the people who died.

The attack that was reminiscent of the Westgate attack has led to the condemnation of our security forces and the manner in which they conducted themselves during the attack.

Today Tuesday 7th April starting from 5pm to 9pm Kenyans from all walks of life led by activist Boniface Mwangi, family and friends of the deceased have organised a vigil at the Uhuru park Freedom corner in honour of the departed.

There will be a board that will be used to put up photos and hand written notes, cards etc to remember the lives of the students who’s dreams were cut short by the attackers.

They will also remember the lives of the policemen and security guards who died in the line of duty and will later hold a prayer for the families, friends and colleagues of the departed.

#147 2 #147 3 #147 4 #147 5 #147

 

Stench of death permeates Kenya massacre university’s halls

Scattered books and dark blood stains on the floor: the bodies have been collected but an abbatoir-like stench permeates the Kenyan university where Islamist gunmen massacred 148 people last week.

In the now quiet grounds, police and soldiers stand under the shade of trees, where students once sat studying or chatting with friends.

Papers and pens lie in the dust, apparently dropped by students as they fled when gunmen from Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab launched their killing spree, hurling grenades and firing automatic rifles.

The massacre in Garissa, Kenya’s deadliest attack since the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi, claimed the lives of 142 students, three police officers and three soldiers.

On Monday, four days since the day-long violence spree, journalists were briefly allowed for the first time into the campus.

The bullet-scarred buildings remained closed, but peering through the doors and windows, a sense of the carnage and the fury of the violence was clear.

At the three-storey Elgon A hostel, where the worst killings took place, shards of glass from the doors smashed by bullets cover the entrance.

Inside, where the gunmen gathered students together before carrying out their day of slaughter, dark stains of blood cover the floors, showing the magnitude of the massacre.

– Scraps of flesh –

Reuben Nyaora, a clinical officer working for the aid agency International Rescue Committee (IRC), and one of the first frontline medics into the halls, described seeing “bodies everywhere in execution lines… people whose heads had been blown off, bullet wounds everywhere, it was a grisly mess.”

Now the rooms are empty, but in places the blood is smeared in long lines, suggesting where a wounded student crawled away in agony in a desperate effort to escape.

Belongings of the students still lie around: a single shoe, a pair of sandals, torn and bloody clothes, some books.

Survivors described scenes of total carnage: piles of bodies and pools of blood running down the corridors as laughing gunmen taunted their victims.

Nyaora described how he witnessed three women apparently dead, covered head to toe entirely in blood but in fact physically unharmed, pick themselves up from a pile of corpses.

They told him how gunmen ordered them to “swim in the blood”, as though they were making fun of them, playing games and apparently enjoying the killing.

Local government commissioner Njega Miir, who stopped journalists taking photographs from inside the halls as a mark of respect to the dead, said buildings would remain locked, and the property of the students left sent on to survivors.

“We have secured all doors to all buildings in the college to ensure that, items left behind by the students remain safe, and delivered to their respective owners,” he said.

The university has been ordered to close permanently.

Around the compound, evidence remains of the desperation the students felt, as those that could fled the killing.

Snagged on the barbed wire fence around the campus are scraps of flesh, hair and small rags of cloth – ripped off the students as they escaped.

Photo Credits : AFP

Obama will still visit Kenya despite of the Garissa attacks

US President Barack Obama will still visit Kenya despite an al Shabaab attack on Garissa University College that left 147 people dead.

This is according to a statement released on the White House’s official website, stating that Obama will still visit the country in July.

“Even at this difficult hour, the Kenyan people should know they have an unwavering friend and ally in the United States of America,” the statement read in part.

Obama further condemned the killing of the 147 students by the al Shabaab and said the event will not deter the socio-economic and political growth of the country.

“I know firsthand the extraordinary resilience and fundamental decency of the people of Kenya. So I know that the people of Garissa and all of Kenya will grieve, but their determination to achieve a better and more secure future will not be deterred,” Obama said.

Obama further heaped praise on the security agencies that responded to the attack.

“We also commend the heroism of the responders who lost their lives in the selfless protection of the students and faculty,” Obama said.

Obama further pledged continued assistance to Kenya in the war on terror.

“We will stand hand-in-hand with the Kenyan Government and people against the scourge of terrorism and in their efforts to bring communities together,” Obama said.

 

Somalia’s Shebab warn Kenyan public of ‘long, gruesome war’

Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab Islamists threatened Kenyan citizens with “another bloodbath” on Saturday, two days after their gunmen slaughtered 148 people at a university.

“We will, by the permission of Allah, stop at nothing to avenge the deaths of our Muslim brothers until your government ceases its oppression and until all Muslim lands are liberated from Kenyan occupation,” the Shebab said in a statement.

“And until then, Kenyan cities will run red with blood… this will be a long, gruesome war of which you, the Kenyan public, are its first casualties.”

The day-long siege on Thursday of the university in the northeastern town of Garissa was Kenya’s deadliest attack since the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi, and the bloodiest ever by the Shebab militants.

The Shebab, in an emailed statement written in good English, and which was confirmed genuine by a spokesman via telephone, described how they had specifically singled out non-Muslims to kill, gathering them together before executing them.

Survivors who hid from the attack have recounted how the gunmen called on people to come out of their dormitory bedrooms and lie on the ground face down, but then killed them.

A photograph seen by AFP from inside the building showed over 50 students killed lying down on the ground.

“The mujahedeen stormed the university compound and swiftly proceeded to the halls of residence where they had gathered all the occupants,” the statement added.

“And since the attack targeted only non-Muslims, all Muslims were allowed to safely evacuate the premises before executing the disbelievers.”

The statement also described what it called “unspeakable atrocities against the Muslims of East Africa” by Kenyan security forces, both in Kenya’s northeastern ethnic Somali region and in southern Somalia, when Nairobi sent troops in 2011 to battle the Islamists.

The gunmen in Garissa wanted to “avenge the deaths of thousands of Muslims killed at the hands of the Kenyan security forces,” the statement added.

The Kenyan government has vowed that it would not be “intimidated”.

But the Shebab also warned the public they would be targeted in “schools, universities, workplaces and even in your homes” as they had elected the government.

“Choices have consequences; you chose your government out of your own volition so endure the consequences of your actions, for you will bear the full brunt of its follies,” the statement read.

“Not only are you condoning your government’s oppressive policies by failing to speak out against them, but are reinforcing their policies by electing them. You will, therefore, pay the price with your blood.”

Photo Credits : AFP

Update: 147 Confirmed Dead in Garissa University Terrorist Attack

147 people have been confirmed dead in the Garissa terrorist attack. In a report released by the Kenya National Disaster Operation the 147 fatalities have been confirmed.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery confirmed the number of casualties saying that the terrorist siege had come to an end. He said that the four gunmen involved in the attack had also been killed.

The attack is the deadliest since the 1998 United States Embassy bombing in Nairobi.

Witnesses recount horror of Kenya university attack

An explosion followed by gunfire woke students at Garissa’s Moi University in Kenya before dawn on Thursday morning.

At around 5:30 am (2:30 GMT) an unknown number of masked gunmen began an assault by tossing explosives at the main gate before storming a nearby girl’s hostel.

More than 800 students attend the university and sleep in dormitories on the sprawling campus on the outskirts of the town in northeast Kenya.

“We were sleeping when we heard a loud explosion that was followed by gunshots and everyone started running for safety,” said student Japhet Mwala.

“There are those who were not able to leave the hostels where the gunmen headed and started firing, I am lucky to be alive because I jumped through the fence with other students,” said Mwala.

Another student, Katherine — who did not want to give her full name — said that when she first heard the explosion and gunfire, “we thought that it was power problems”.

But soon the horror of being caught up in the latest attack by the Al-Qaeda aligned militants from neighbouring Somalia dawned on her.

– We thought warning was April Fool –

“We started running away,” she said. Katherine and other students fled their hostels and ran to nearby fields where they hid as the gunfire continued.

Rosalind Mugambi also fled to the fields with other students and “bullets following us”. She said some of her friends were injured by the gunfire.

“We saw some blood stains and they were shot,” she said.

Garissa, around 150 kilometres (90 miles) from the Somali border, has suffered chronic insecurity for years, fuelled by political and business rivalries, and the conflict in neighbouring Somalia which has driven hundreds of thousands of refugees to live in the nearby Dadaab camps.

Numerous grenade attacks have been blamed on Shebab, but Thursday’s attack was the first time Shebab gunmen have carried out an armed assault in the town. After moving into the university the attackers separated some students according to religion, allowing the Muslims to leave and taking an unknown number of Christians hostage.

Students said that notices had been posted around the campus warning that an attack was possible.

“There were reports of an attack the whole week and even the university administration was informed,” said Nicholas Mutuku.

“But it is like everyone didn’t take it seriously, because it was not the first time such reports were emerging.”

Some who saw the warning notices a day ahead of the attack thought they were an April Fool’s prank.

“Yesterday there were those notices, but as it was April 1, we just thought that it was fooling,” said Katherine.

Photo Credits : AFP

Gunmen attack Varsity in Garissa town

Gunmen have stormed into a university in Garissa Town.

Gunshots and explosions are being heard from the compound.

Witnesses say the gunmen stormed in at  5am as most students were going  for morning prayers.

Those calling from inside the university say there are many casualties.

Police, the military and the Kenya Defence Forces on the ground to help the hostages and get the attackers.

It is however unclear what the motive of the attack is and who is responsible for it.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery and Inspector General of police Joseph Boinnet have flown to Garissa to help in coordinating the operation of rescuing those trapped in the college by gunmen.

Officials said the officials had been ordered to go there to help in containing the situation. By 9 am, two people had been confirmed dead and 32 wounded.

Boinnet confirmed the attack and said efforts to restore the situation were ongoing.

Armed gang attacks police station in Garissa

Several police officers have been reported missing following a raid on Bodhai police station in Garissa by an armed gang on Monday.

The gang attacked the station which is near the border with Lamu and burnt down a police car.

The motive of the attack is still unclear but initial investigations are linking it to the Al-Shabaab militia.

The Somalia based militia has been blamed for recent attacks in the region that have left more than 100 people dead, displaced hundreds of families and destroyed property.

I Love Travelling

I love traveling! There’s this one time we really wanted to explore a town we’d never been to in our beautiful country Kenya. We ended up in Garissa. On the last night there, we partied so hard yet we had an early morning bus to Nairobi. Somewhere within the night, we lost one of our friends to some women who promised more fun 🙂 By morning he had not shown up at the hotel where we were putting up. We had to leave him behind! Thank goodness he had carried his bus ticket with him! Maybe it was actually his plan! Ha ha ha!

It makes me sad that dating has moved from the nice quiet cafés to the loud dimly lit clubs, yet the young generation has refused to listen that this is not how it’s meant to be.

I try to live my life cautiously, so disappointments have been rare and far between!

By the way, this is one of the best shoe brands I have worn in my life. They are Clark’s! 😉

#Kenya #NoToTribalism #WeAreOne #AskMyShoe