Kenya names law graduate as gunman in student massacre

April 6, 2015 7:32 am


Hundreds gather for an Easter service at the All Saints' Cathedral in Nairobi on April 5, 2015, mourning one of the country's worst ever massacres/AFP
Hundreds gather for an Easter service at the All Saints’ Cathedral in Nairobi on April 5, 2015, mourning one of the country’s worst ever massacres/AFP
NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 6 – Kenya authorities have named one of the gunmen who killed 148 people in a university massacre as an ethnic Somali Kenyan national and law graduate, highlighting the Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab’s ability to recruit within the country.

Interior ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka said high-flying Abdirahim Abdullahi was “a university of Nairobi law graduate and described by a person who knows him well as a brilliant upcoming lawyer”.

The spokesman said Abdullahi’s father, a local official in the northeastern county of Mandera, had “reported to the authorities that his son had gone missing and suspected the boy had gone to Somalia”.

Describing Abdullahi as an A-grade student, Njoka said it was “critical that parents whose children go missing or show tendencies of having been exposed to violent extremism report to authorities”.

Kenya entered the second of three days of national mourning on Monday for those killed in last week’s massacre, the vast majority of whom were students.

Hundreds had packed Nairobi’s Anglican cathedral on Sunday, where Archbishop Eliud Wabukala said Easter services were overshadowed by “great and terrible evil” as police patrolled outside.

“These terrorists want to cause divisions in our society, but we shall tell them, ‘You will never prevail’,” the archbishop said.

Somalia’s Shabaab militants attacked the university in the northeastern town of Garissa at dawn on Thursday, lining up non-Muslim students for execution in what President Uhuru Kenyatta described as a “barbaric medieval slaughter”.

Although Kenyatta has vowed to retaliate “in the severest way possible”, there have also been calls for national unity.

He said people’s “justified anger” should not lead to “the victimisation of anyone” – a clear reference to Kenya’s large Muslim and Somali minorities in a country where 80 percent of the population is Christian.

– ‘Kenya is at war’ –

The massacre, Kenya’s deadliest attack since the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi, claimed the lives of 142 students, three police officers and three soldiers.

Top Muslim and Christian leaders also offered their condolences.

“Kenya is at war, and we must all stand together,” said Hassan Ole Naado, the deputy head of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, saying the organisation was helping to raise money for the funerals of those killed and the medical costs of the scores of wounded.

“We deeply feel the pain of the loss of young lives,” he added in a statement, warning that the Shabaab was aiming to “create religious conflict”.

Pope Francis called the killings “senseless brutality”, while the Cairo-based top Sunni Muslim body Al-Azhar has condemned the “terrorist act committed by Somalia’s Shabaab”.

On Saturday, Shabaab warned of a “long, gruesome war” unless Kenya withdrew its troops from Somalia, and threatened “another bloodbath”.

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