International News Brief: Terror attack at Kenyan University

A terrorist attack at Garissa University College in eastern Kenya left 148 people dead and an estimated 79 people injured, officials said. The siege, which began at 5:30 a.m. on April 2, has since been claimed by the Somali militant group al-Shabab. This group was also responsible for a 2013 shooting that left 67 dead.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the shooters first targeted an early morning Christian prayer service before moving on to the dormitories. Kenya’s National Disaster Operation Center has reported that some students were shot and others held hostage. A government spokesperson Abdulkadir Sugow issued a statement saying that the attack ended after 15 hours, when four al-Shabab gunmen were killed. Ultimately, over 500 students were successfully rescued from the turmoil.

Many observers expect that there were religious motivations for the attack, as the al-Shabab group has been notorious in recent history for persecuting those who harbor Western or Christian ideals. al-Shabab’s military operations spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab reaffirmed this suspicion to Reuters, saying “we sorted people out and released the Muslims.”
Gideon Nyabwengi, a student at Garissa, said to the Los Angeles Times that when his best friend was “unable to recite a Muslim prayer” to the shooters, they killed him.

The people of Kenya have expressed outrage in the days following the attack. The national air force completed a debilitating bombing on two al-Shabab camps in Somalia on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning, a military official said in a statement to the Washington Post.

Despite this demonstration of force, many Kenyans are still skeptical of their government’s ability to ensure their security. The Daily Nation newspaper reported that properly equipped police officers did not arrive at the College for several hours, but that it only took them 30 minutes to stop the gunmen after entering. A proper response time would have likely saved many of the lost lives.

Support from the international community is being presented to the African country, and White House press secretary John Earnest said “the United States stands with the people of Kenya, who will not be intimidated by such cowardly acts.”

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