At least 147 people were killed after al-Shabab militants attacked a university in northeastern Kenya today. 79 students had been injured in the attack, 587 had been evacuated while 160 students are still unaccounted for, Kenya’s interior ministry said.
Members of the Somalia-based group attacked the campus at about 5:30am on Thursday shooting some young people and taking others hostage. Students at the college were sleeping when the militants attacked, fatally shooting two security guards and starting their bloody rampage.
“If you were a Christian, you were shot on the spot,” said Collins Wetangula, a student who was in a dormitory when gunmen burst in, opening doors and asking whether
students were Muslim or Christian, according to the Associated Press. “With each blast of the gun, I thought I was going to die.”
Another female student who escaped the hostage drama told Al Jazeera that she had stepped over more bodies than she could count as she got out of the university, while another student said he had seen more than 100 bodies.
Students take shelter in a vehicle after fleeing
The massacre is the worst terrorist attack in Kenya since the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi in 1998, which killed 224. An attack on an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi in 2013 left 67 dead and renewed fears that al-Shabab could wage significant operations from its strongholds in neighboring Somalia.
The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group said during the siege that the assault was launched in revenge for Kenya sending troops to fight the group in Somalia. After the attack, the country’s interior ministry announced a 12-hour curfew starting at 6.30pm in Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, and Tana River counties.
A male student hostage is escorted out of Garissa University after Kenya Defence Forces ended a siege by terrorist gunmen on April 2, 2015.