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Agony of parents identifying Garissa massacre bodies

The identification process was being coordinated with the university officials, mortuary attendants police and the Kenya Red Cross. Photo/CFM.

The identification process was being coordinated with the university officials, mortuary attendants police and the Kenya Red Cross. Photo/CFM.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 4 – The identification of the bodies of victims of the Garissa University College massacre entered the second day on Sunday at the Chiromo mortuary, with more expected to be identified.

By Saturday evening, only 21 bodies had been identified with the exercise ongoing Sunday.

Already over 100 bodies have been airlifted and arrived at the facility where family, friends and relatives gathered awaiting with baited breath to know whether their loved ones were among the unlucky 148 who were killed in the attack perpetrated by Al Shabaab militants.

Early morning many families who had gathered expressed displeasure at the manner in which the process was being carried out, with the Kenya Red Cross volunteers calming them down.

“Some of the bodies do not have any form of identification and that is why we have to take pictures which will be shown in a screen, once you identify the face, you will be allowed to view the physical body to ascertain it,” a Kenya Red Cross official said.

The identification process was being coordinated with the university officials, mortuary attendants police and the Kenya Red Cross.

“The Dean of students is here and we are trying to get the students’ files which have their photographs, names and other details to make the process easier, please be patient with us,” he pleaded.

Families whose kin’s body were badly disfigured had a hard time identifying them, with many relying on physical features known to them.

Among those who waited to know the condition of their relatives, was Joseph Barasa who had pitched tent at the Chiromo mortuary for over 7 hours waiting to know the fate of his sister, a 2nd year Law student at the Garissa University college.

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“We have not seen her for a long time and when we heard of the breaking news on radio we decided to call her but she did not pick up our calls. We have been told to check here at Chiromo (mortuary) to see whether we will find her,” said Barasa

On the other hand, the family of Bob Lord as they fondly referred to him is not as hopeful, they have already identified his body among 20 others lying at the morgue.

“We have seen his body and we have positively identified him…that’s all,” his brother said, “it is a huge loss to our family.”

The 18-year-old first year Economics student at the college was shot in the head and his family describes the body’s’ condition as disheartening.

Stephen Kiprotich who identified Lord’s body said his brother’s phone remained on throughout the siege and even the better part of Saturday, raising hopes that he could be alive, however their hopes were dashed when one of his friends called to say he was no more.

“One of his friends called me and told me the bad news, that he had seen his body, he was found on his bed, he had been shot in the head and that his body had already been put in the vehicle and transported,” Kiprotich posed

Kiprotich, a student at the Nyeri Medical Training College said he doesn’t know whether his parents who reside in Tot area of Marakwet County have been informed of what befell their second last born son.

Administration Police officer only identified as Masinde who was deployed to the College was among those killed in the attack.

His brother says the 29 -year old had been in Garissa for less than two years and really loved his job having been recruited recently.

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“He always wanted to be a police officer and even dropped out of a teacher’s college to pursue his ambition,” said Michael Nyangure, his brother.

The late Masinde’s cousin Asnas Eshikumo who accompanied her nephew to the mortuary said she was heartbroken by the news, describing her cousin as a generous person who cared about the welfare of his family.

“Anytime I had a problem, I would talk to him and he would ensure everything was sorted out – he always ensured we were comfortable and we will really miss him,” said Eshikumo.

142 students were executed by the militant group of men who taunted their victims, often saying “we are not afraid to die, we have come to kill you and we know we will die with you.”

Some of the 104 survivors have told how they heard the gunmen torment the students, saying they were on a mission to kill because Kenyan military forces are fighting them in Somalia.


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