Kenya Copes With Deadliest Attack Since 1998 Bombing

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Garissa University students comfort each other after they were rescued from Thursday's deadly attack.

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Garissa University students comfort each other after they were rescued from Thursday’s deadly attack.

Daniel Irungu/EPA /LANDOV


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Daniel Irungu/EPA /LANDOV

One day after four gunmen killed at least 147 people in an attack
on a university campus in Kenya, police are hunting terrorism suspects,
and students are debating whether to return to Garissa University
College. A teachers’ union says the school should shut down.

“I
can’t come back here again. It is like risking my life to secure my
future. I can’t do that,” second-year student Pallete Okombo tells
Kenya’s Daily Nation.
“Some of my friends were killed. I was calling them, but they were not
picking up. They were in the hostels. I had rented a house outside the
university.”

Local residents gather around a newspaper vendor to read articles on an attack on Garissa University College in Garissa town Friday.

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Local residents gather around a newspaper vendor to read
articles on an attack on Garissa University College in Garissa town
Friday.

Dai Kurokawa/EPA /LANDOV


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Dai Kurokawa/EPA /LANDOV

For Kenya, Thursday’s terrorist attack
orchestrated by Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab was the deadliest
since the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi in 1998. It targeted
the school in Garissa, a city in eastern Kenya that’s about 90 miles
from the border with Somalia, where Al-Shabaab is based.

Friday, police released the names of nine men who are suspected of planning or aiding terrorist attacks in Kenya, calling them “blood thirsty, armed and dangerous.”

Condemning
the violence, a national teachers union called for the government to
permanently close the college, which only recently became a
degree-conferring institution. According to Kenya’s Standard Media,
the Kenya National Union of Teachers wants the students to transfer to
safer areas, saying that the Garissa campus should become a training
academy for police and the military.

A survivor of the Garissa University attack talks to fellow students one day after gunmen attacked the university. The government says 147 people were killed.

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A survivor of the Garissa University attack talks to fellow
students one day after gunmen attacked the university. The government
says 147 people were killed.

Daniel Irungu/EPA /LANDOV


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Daniel Irungu/EPA /LANDOV

The Vatican has issued a statement in which Pope Francis condemned
the attack as an “act of senseless brutality,” saying that the pope
“prays for a change of heart among its perpetrators.”

Thursday’s
violence began with a rapid attack in the predawn hours and continued
into a siege that lasted until after nightfall. That’s when security
forces fired on the gunmen, reportedly detonating their explosive vests.
The death toll, initially reported at 14, rose sharply throughout the
day.

“The gunmen had chosen a block of university dorm rooms
ideal for a standoff, with a clear line of sight in all directions,”
NPR’s Gregory Warner reports from Nairobi. “That attack was also
designed to trap civilians inside a building and extend a siege for
maximum media attention.”

There were also reports that the
gunmen fired indiscriminately at times — and that at others, they
attempted to target Christians and spare the lives of Muslims.

Gregory
also notes that Al-Shabab, which also claimed responsibility for the
2013 attack Westgate Mall in Nairobi, “says it’s punishing Kenya for
supplying troops to fight Islamist extremists in Somalia.”

A Kenya soldier walks past the front entrance of Garissa University Friday. Kenya's interior minister vowed that the country would not bow to terrorist threats, a day after the massacre of 147 students.

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A Kenya soldier walks past the front entrance of Garissa
University Friday. Kenya’s interior minister vowed that the country
would not bow to terrorist threats, a day after the massacre of 147
students.

Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images


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 : NPR

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