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Kenyans Mourn Catastrophic Attack That Claimed 147 Lives

Reported by Taylor Miller

Al-Shabab gunmen attacked Garissa University College in northeast Kenya early Thursday, killing 147 people and wounding 79 others, with their purpose believed to be targeting Christians.

Collin’s Wetangula, vice chairman of the Student Union, was preparing to take a shower when he heard gunshots from the Tana Dorm, a dormitory located150 yards away that houses men and women. There are six dorms on the college campus and there are at least 887 students.

“All I could hear were footsteps and gunshots; nobody was screaming because they thought this would lead the gunmen to know where they are,” the Associated Press reported him as saying. “The gunmen were saying ‘sisi ni al-Shabab’ (Swaihi for ‘We are al-Shabab’).”

Wetangula went on to explain that the gunmen asked students who were hidden in their rooms if they were Christian or Muslim. If they answered Christian, they were killed on the spot. Wetangula explained that the Kenyan military, who identified themselves to students, took him and some others to safety.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said hostages have been taken. Many students are trying to get in contact with their trapped friends, hoping for the best outcome. Prayers were underway at the college’s mosque when the attack started, but no one was attacked at the mosque.

Wetangula was among 20 other students who were evacuated and told by soldiers to run at their command and dive at their command. Al-Shabab snipers were perched on top of a three-story dormitory, the Elgon, ready to shoot at them as they ran.

Kenya’s north and eastern regions are near the Somali border where many attacks are often the actions of the al-Qaida Somali group, which has vowed for retribution on Kenya for troops being sent in to fight militants in Somalia.

So far, only 54 of the 147 cadavers have been identified by mourning relatives. Kenyans have reportedly began three days of mourning following the massacre. Survivors of the attack will also have to piece together their lives after the Easter holiday as the trauma they endured is sure to haunt them for the rest of their lives. Nineteen-year-old Cynthia Cheroitich was so traumatized by the matter that she stayed hidden in her closet for two days. When police came to her rescue; she’d didn’t budge. It was only after the head of the university convinced her that it was safe that she moved.

Please note: There’s a discrepancy in the actual number of reported deaths. BBC is reporting 148, while CNN and MSN are reporting 147.

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