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147 killed after gunmen stage pre-dawn attack on Kenyan university

The masked gunmen stormed the university in the northeastern town of Garissa as students were sleeping.

Kenya University Attack Students leave a house where they had been taking shelter. Stringer / AP Stringer / AP / AP

Updated at 9.45pm

AT LEAST 147 students were massacred when Somalia’s Shebab Islamist group attacked a Kenyan university this morning, the government said, after the deadliest attack in the country since US embassy bombings in 1998.

Hurling grenades and firing automatic rifles, the masked gunmen stormed the university in the northeastern town of Garissa as students were sleeping, shooting dead dozens before setting Muslims free and holding Christians and others hostage.

There are “147 fatalities confirmed in the Garissa attack,” the national disaster operations centre said in a statement, confirming the seige was now over with all attackers dead.

“The operation at Garissa University College has ended, with all four terrorists killed,” the centre said, after the attack which lasted some 16 hours from before dawn until well after dark.

At least 79 people were also wounded in the assault, which began when the first grenades were used before dawn to blast open the gates of the university, near the lawless border with war-torn Somalia.

In the final hour before darkness fell, Kenyan troops stormed the student dormitory where the gunmen were holed up as explosions and heavy gunfire rang out.

Troops then continued to search the campus for any possible insurgents.

It was the worst attack in Kenya since the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi by Al-Qaeda, when 213 people were killed by a huge truck bomb.

Today’s attack was claimed by Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab fighters, the same insurgents who carried out the Westgate shopping mall massacre in Nairobi in September 2013, when four gunmen killed at least 67 people in a four-day siege.


Jane Ann McKenna, Director of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Ireland, said that the Kenyan health authorities have requested the support of MSF.

A medical team is assessing the situation at Garissa Hospital and will provide support should there be an influx of wounded
The team consists of one doctor, three nurses, three clinical officers, one anaesthetist and one logistician. They have equipment to provide surgical support and medical care for 150 wounded. MSF also has the capacity to provide medical evacuations by air to Nairobi if necessary.

Kenya University Attack Students of the Garissa University College take shelter in a vehicle after fleeing from an attack by gunmen. AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said in a statement this evening that he strongly condemned the terrorist attack.

“On behalf of the Irish people I send my condolences to the families and loved ones of those who died, to fellow students, to the Kenyan government and people.

“I am following developments closely through our Embassy in Nairobi.”

©  – AFP, 2015 with reporting from Daragh Brophy.

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