NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 7 – Kenyans prepared to march for greater national security Tuesday following last week’s massacre by Somalia’s Shabaab Islamists, ahead of a candlelit vigil on the final day of mourning for the 148 people killed by the militants.
Tuesday’s demonstration, expected in the afternoon in central Nairobi, comes as security forces continue their hunt for those behind the university killings.
A vigil is planned for early evening on the third and final day of national mourning.
Kenyan fighter jets pounded camps belonging to the Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents in southern Somalia on Monday, but anger has been growing over allegations that critical intelligence warnings were missed.
Special forces units took seven hours to reach the university in Garissa last Thursday, some 365 kilometres (225 miles) from the capital, as Shabaab gunmen stormed dormitory buildings.
The extremists lined up non-Muslim students for execution in what President Uhuru Kenyatta described as a “barbaric medieval slaughter”.
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. READ: Kenya warplanes strike Shabaab camps in Somalia
“We shall not forget,” the Standard newspaper front-page read, as media printed the faces of those killed in the attack, even as scores of relatives continue an agonising wait for the remains of their loved ones at the main mortuary in Nairobi.
Vigil organiser Boniface Mwangi, who has urged Kenyans to come with flowers and to dress in black for the vigil in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park – or “Freedom” in Swahili – has been deeply critical of the country’s security failings.
“Entrenched corruption in the security system allows Al-Shabaab to move freely in and out of Kenya and carry out such attacks with ease,” said Mwangi, a civil society activist.
The army said Monday’s airstrikes destroyed two Islamist bases, and followed a promise by Kenyatta that he would retaliate “in the severest way possible” against the Shabaab militants for their attack last Thursday.