Kenya al-Shabab attack: Bodies recovered from Garissa university

Grief-stricken relatives have gone to identify bodies at a university in north-eastern Kenya where al-Shabab militants killed at least 147 people.

The BBC’s Anne Soy at Garissa University says ambulances have been leaving the campus, as have students with suitcases.

A dusk-to-dawn curfew has been imposed across north-eastern Kenya.

The attack on Thursday was the deadliest yet by the Somali Islamist group. At least 79 people were injured.

The attackers were eventually cornered in a dormitory by Kenyan security forces. Four of them died when their suicide vests detonated. A fifth gunman was reportedly arrested.

More than 500 students managed to escape.

Most of the students at Garissa are from other parts of Kenya, a local journalist told the BBC, and many of the bodies are being taken to the capital, Nairobi.

Christians targeted

The militants singled out Christians and shot them, witnesses said. They rampaged through the campus at dawn on Thursday, shooting and shouting “we are al-Shabab”.

A spokesman later confirmed that the group – linked to al-Qaeda – was responsible. It says it is at war with Kenya, which sent troops to Somalia in 2011 to fight the militants.

Al-Shabab was also blamed for the Westgate Mall massacre in Nairobi in 2013 in which 67 people died.

Kenyan authorities are to hold an emergency meeting to assess security in the region. There has been criticism that Garissa should have been better protected.

The government has offered a reward of $53,000 (£36,000) for the man it says planned the killing – Mohamed Kuno, a former Kenyan schoolteacher, now thought to be in Somalia.

The heavily armed gunmen killed two security guards first, then fired indiscriminately at students, many of whom were still asleep in their dormitories.

Eric Wekesa, a student at Garissa, told Reuters he locked himself in his room before eventually fleeing.

“What I managed to hear from them is ‘We came to kill or finally be killed.’ That’s what they said.”

“It was horrible, there was shooting everywhere,” another student, Augustine Alanga told the BBC’s Newsday programme

He said it was “pathetic” that the university was only guarded by two police officers.

Attack as it happened

1. Militants enter the university grounds, two guards are shot dead

2. Shooting begins within the campus

3. Students attacked in their classrooms while preparing for exams

4. Gunmen believed isolated in the female dormitories

5. Some students make an escape through the fence

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta offered his condolences to families of the victims and ordered “urgent steps” to ensure police recruits could begin training immediately. “We have suffered unnecessarily due to shortage of security personnel,” he said.

North-eastern Kenya has been raided repeatedly by Somali militants since 2011 – attacks that are blamed on al-Shabab.