Death toll in Kenya university attack rises to 147

Kenya says the death toll in the attack by Somali Islamists on a university in northeastern Kenya on Thursday has risen to 147 and the siege has ended.

GARISSA, KENYA (APRIL 2, 2015)(KTN) – Kenya said on Thursday (April 2) that the death toll in the attack by Somali Islamists on a university in northeastern Kenya had risen to 147.

Speaking to reporters in Garissa, where the attack took place, Interior Minister Joseph Nkaissery said a siege of the campus was over and several al Shabaab fighters had been killed.

“When I talked to you this evening, at about quarter to seven, I told you that the operation was still ongoing, 90 percent of the threat has been eliminated. I want now to confirm to Kenyans that the operation has ended successfully, all the terrorists are killed, the four terrorists are killed,” he said.

Gunmen from the Islamist militant group al Shabaab stormed the university campus early in the morning, killing and wounding dozens of students and staff.

Police and soldiers surrounded the Garissa University College and exchanged gunfire with the attackers throughout the day.

Nkaissery said the death toll was up considerably from earlier estimates.

“This is a very sad day for Kenya. We, as I speak, it’s unfortunate, that the terrorists were able to kill young, good citizens, very early in the morning, before the operation started, and as I speak to you, it is sadly that we lost 147 lives. It is very unfortunate that it has happened and I want personally to send my personal condolences to the families of the lost, of those who lost their loved ones and also to wish the injured a speedy recovery,” the minister said.

During the siege, al Shabaab’s spokesman said the gunmen were holding Christian hostages inside the university.

Al Shabaab, which seeks to impose its own harsh version of sharia law, has separated Muslims from Christians in some of its previous raids in Kenya, notably late last year in attacks on a bus and at a quarry.

Its repeated raids, together with attacks on churches by home-grown Islamist groups, have strained the cordial relations between Kenya’s Muslim and Christian communities.