NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 2 – At least two people have been confirmed dead and more than 30 others seriously wounded, following Thursday morning’s attack at Garissa University College.
A major security operation was underway by the military and police who stormed the university to fight off the attackers believed to be Al Shabaab militants.
The National Disaster Operations Centre which was coordinating the operation said security forces had surrounded the university and urged members of the public to stay away.
“There are two fatalities, four injuries reported so far. KDF at the scene. Members of the public urged to stay away from the College,” NDOC said.
The Kenya Red Cross reported that at least 30 people, mainly students were being treated of gunshot wounds sustained in the attack. They were taken to the Garissa Level 5 hospital where four of them were said to be in a critical condition.
As at 10 am, security forces comprising police and the military were struggling to flush out between four to five gunmen who were holed up in the university’s hostels with students.
“It is a delicate security operation because we have students inside and the attackers are shooting,” a police officer at the scene said.
Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet issued a statement urging the public to remain calm as security forces did their best to rescue the students and neutralise the attackers.
“Security agencies are currently engaged in an elaborate process of flushing out the gunmen from the hostels,” he said.
Boinnet’s statement did not mention the number of casualties, but instead dwelt on the chronology of events.
“Armed attackers forced their way into Garissa University by shooting at the guards manning the main gate at around 5.30am,” Boinnet said of the attackers who shot indiscriminately while inside the university compound.”
“Police officers who were at the time guarding the student’s hostels heard the gunshots and responded swiftly and engaged the gunmen in a fierce shootout, however the attackers retreated and gained entry into the hostels.”
The university’s Dean of Students Jacktone Kweya who was interviewed by Citizen Television said he was yet to get a proper briefing on casualties.
“All I can say is that I received telephone calls from students at 5 am that the university is under attack,” he told the TV station.
The Northeastern part of the country, adjacent to the Somalia border has faced numerous attacks from the militants linked to the Al Qaeda terror network since the deployment of the Kenyan military in their lawless country.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery and Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet immediately flew to the area to access the situation.