147 Dead in al-Qaeda Linked College Rampage in Kenya

National News
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UPDATE: At least 147 people were killed after an elite al Qaeda-linked terror unit stormed a college campus in Kenya and targeted Christians on Thursday, Kenyan and U.S. officials said.

The attack at Garissa University College ended after more than 16 hours after “all four terrorists” were killed, Kenya’s national disaster body announced at 9:30 p.m. local time (2:30 p.m. ET).

Masked attackers “shot indiscriminately” and “heavy gunfire and explosions” were heard during the standoff, authorities and eyewitnesses said. The Red Cross confirmed that an unknown number of students were being held hostage.

The attackers were members of an elite unit from Somalia’s al Shabab terror group, a U.S. counterterrorism official told NBC News. The unit, known as Amniyat, had been planning the attack for “a long time,” the official said. Its leader, Mohamed Kuno, has been hunted by Kenyan authorities for years and was described by the U.S. official as a “hard-core” jihadi.

Kenya’s Ministry of Interior confirmed to NBC News that Kuno was the same man featured in a wanted poster it issued earlier in the day. The poster offered a reward equivalent to around $215,000 for Kuno, although the poster itself referred to him by several other aliases.

Among those killed were four terrorists, according to the official Twitter account of the Kenyan presidency. Of the 815 students believed to be at the college at the time, the country’s Interior Ministry said some 280 were still unaccounted for around 7:30 p.m. local time (12:30 p.m. ET).



(NBC News) At least 70 people were killed and 79 others injured Thursday after al Qaeda-linked gunmen stormed a college campus in Kenya and targeted Christians, according to the country’s disaster operations center.

Masked attackers “shot indiscriminately” and “heavy gunfire and explosions” were heard during the standoff at Garissa University College that was still ongoing after 12 hours, authorities and eyewitnesses said. The Red Cross confirmed that an unknown number of students were being held hostage.

Among the 70 people killed were four terrorists, according to the official Twitter account of the Kenyan presidency. Police have imposed a 6:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. curfew in Garissa and the surrounding counties until April 16, the Kenya National Disaster Operation Centre said.

Al Shabab, an al Qaeda-linked terror group based in neighboring Somalia, claimed responsibility for the pre-dawn attack. Sheik Abdiasis Abu Musab, the group’s military operations spokesman, said many Christians were being held by the militants. “We sorted people out and released the Muslims,” he told Reuters.

A student whose high school is just across the street from Garissa University College told NBC News he was walking to school when he heard gunfire and explosions. The gunfire had been ongoing for more than 12 hours, said the 16-year-old, who is not being named by NBC News.

“You can still here it now,” he said at 6 p.m. local time (11 a.m. ET). “There was a lull but now the shooting has intensified again in the last ten minutes.”

Backing up what other eyewitnesses have said, the student told NBC news that his best friend, who is on the basketball team at the university, was allowed to leave by the attackers after proving he was a Muslim by reciting the Shahada.

Robert Godec, the U.S. ambassador to Kenya, condemned what he called a “heinous terrorist attack” by al Shabab.

Collins Wetangula, the vice chairman of the student union, said he was preparing to take a shower when he heard gunshots.

When the gunmen arrived at his dorm he could hear them opening doors and asking if the people who had hidden inside whether they were Muslims or Christians. “If you were a Christian, you were shot on the spot,” Wetangula told The Associated Press. “With each blast of the gun I thought I was going to die.”

He added: “We started running and bullets were whizzing past our heads and the soldiers told us to dive.”

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