Family receives an unexpected phone call from daughter’s killers

A mother speaks of her ordeal as she and her family had to listen to her daughter’s last words before being killed by al Shabaab gunmen at Garissa university.

KITALE, KENYA (APRIL 4, 2015)(REUTERS) – A Kenyan family were coming to terms on Saturday (April 4) with the death of their daughter who was killed by al Shabaab gunmen at Garissa University.

Elizabeth Musia’s family also had to contend with the ordeal of listening to her last words on a mobile phone before she was shot on Thursday (April 2).

Elizabeth called her family, who live in Kitale – over 700 kilometres from Garissa, on March 30 to say she was worried that gunmen would attack the university after rumours and warnings had circled around Garissa university’s campus.

She phoned her family again on Thursday when the gunmen had raided the university and she explained to her mother that they were mostly targeting female Christians.

“It was on Monday evening when our daughter called us and said ‘Mum, we need prayers, we have heard threats that these people are in the area, these people have planned to attack us, therefore pray for us’. I talked to her nicely, we waited till Thursday at almost 6am, when she called her dad and told him ‘Things are worse, we have been ambushed and they are targeting Christians and mostly they are targeting girls’. I was left surprised and started praying,” said Elizabeth’s mother, Rose Nafula.

Elizabeth was later captured by the gunmen and they used her mobile phone to call her family demanding to speak to her father. However, Elizabeth’s father was not at home so her brother, Ken Musinai spoke to the gunmen.

Elizabeth’s captives gave Ken an ultimatum; contact Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta within two minutes and convince him to withdraw Kenya’s forces from Somalia or Elizabeth would be killed.

“So I took the step and talked to her on behalf of our father,” Ken Musinai explained. “She talked nicely and told me ‘They (the al Shabaab gunmen) are here, I have been removed from where I was hiding’. And she requested me to talk to them. I talked to them; they were talking roughly. He told me to call President Uhuru Kenyatta and ask him to remove KDF from Somalia right now. I was given you two minutes, he called after the two minutes, with the same number confirming if I had called.

“He handed over the phone to the kid (Elizabeth Musia) to talk, the kid prayed, and they finally told me,’ Since you are not to blame, and the kid is not to blame, the person to blame is your president, he has refused to remove KDF from Somalia, just listen’. I then heard the first, second and third gunshots. I asked if he had killed the kid, he told me he was done with it. I then disconnected the phone.”

Elizabeth was killed on the fourth floor in one of the university’s hostels. She was a second year medicine student.

The raid has put Kenya on heightened alert and spooked Christian congregations, horrified by survivor tales recalling how the Islamist militants had sought out Christian students to kill, while sparing some Muslims.

In a message directed at the Kenyan public, the al Qaeda aligned group said the raid was revenge for Kenya’s military presence in Somalia and mistreatment of Muslims within Kenya.

Garissa residents have reacted with fury to the massacre, and question why only two security guards were on duty despite warnings that al Shabaab was planning to target a university.

Kenyan officials said they had arrested five men in connection with Thursday’s attack.

The death toll in the Garissa blitz was originally put at 147, but later raised to 148.

With an uncertain number of students and staff still missing, the casualties may yet mount.

Four attackers also died and the authorities put their bullet-ridden, swollen bodies on display on Saturday, hoping that the hundreds of locals who viewed the corpses might be able to identify them.

The Interior Ministry said three men thought to have coordinated the assault were arrested while trying to flee to Somalia.

They were all Kenyans of Somali origin, as was another of those detained, who was a security guard at the university.

A Tanzanian man named as Rashid Charles Mberesero was also arrested at the university.