Africa

Kenya al-Shabab: Kenyatta vows tough response to Garissa attack

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Media captionThe BBC's Maud Jullien in Nairobi: "Kenyans say it is the time to come together and grieve"

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has vowed to respond "in the severest ways possible" to the al-Shabab militant attack on Garissa university in which 148 people died.

In an address to the nation, Mr Kenyatta said the Islamist group posed an "existential threat" to Kenya.

He also said the government would take steps to crack down on those who planned and financed terrorist attacks.

Mr Kenyatta also declared three days of mourning for the victims.

Almost all the dead were students. Another people 79 were injured.

Four militant gunmen were killed, and officials say they are holding five people for questioning - one of whom is believed to be a university security guard.

Buses are transporting more than 600 students and about 50 staff who survived the attacks to their home areas, Garissa governor Nathif Jama Adam told Reuters news agency.

'Justice'

Mr Kenyatta vowed to "fight terrorism to the end" and said the militants would not succeed in their aim of creating an Islamic caliphate in Kenya.

"I want you to know that our security forces are pursuing the remaining accomplices. We will bring all of them to justice," he said.

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Image caption Relatives have been viewing the bodies of victims of the attack at a funeral home in Nairobi
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Security forces have been guarding the funeral home
Image copyright AP
Image caption Red Cross workers are helping relatives find loved ones who survived
Image copyright AP
Image caption Meanwhile in Garissa, people saw the bodies of the dead gunmen on display

"Our forefathers bled and died for this nation, and we will do everything to defend our way of life."

He called on political and religious leaders to "speak in a united voice" and give "weightiest consideration" to national security.

The task of combating terrorism had been complicated by the fact that "the planners and financiers of this brutality are deeply embedded in our communities", Mr Kenyatta added.

"We will not allow them to continue their lives as normal," he said.

The president's address came as the relatives of victims queued at a morgue in the capital Nairobi to identify their loved ones.


Emmanuel Igunza, BBC World Service, Nairobi

At the Nairobi mortuary where bodies of the dead students were taken, a woman I met had travelled from eastern Kenya, frustrated by the lack of news about her son. She had last spoken to him just as gunmen stormed the university. His phone then went dead.

"I can only hope that just maybe he is alive and hiding somewhere. But as a mother, I can feel and tell he won't come back to me alive," she said.

Anxious parents and relatives were privately being shown pictures of the victims. Some broke down after the fate of their loved ones became clear.

A Red Cross official told me the process was slow, as they first had to reconstruct bodies because of severe and, in some cases, multiple gunshot wounds. Others had been beheaded.

Who are the victims?

Survivors 'were too scared to scream'

Why is al-Shabab targeting Kenya?


The bodies were flown to Nairobi for identification, as local mortuaries have been unable to cope, and many of the students killed came from other parts of the country.

The bodies of the four gunmen who died remain in Garissa, where they were put on public display on Saturday.

Earlier on Saturday, a 19-year-old girl was found unhurt in a cupboard on the university campus, where she had hid for two days.

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Media captionThe BBC's Andrew Harding said Cynthia needed a lot of convincing to believe she was really being rescued

Security officials had to bring in a teacher to convince her that it was safe to come out. She told reporters that she drank body lotion when she felt hungry.

While many of the survivors have spoken to the media, little is known so far about those who were killed.

There has been criticism in Garissa, which is 150km (100 miles) from the Somali border, at how the security services dealt with the attack.

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Media captionUhuru Kenyatta: "We will do everything to defend our way of life"

Only two guards were on duty at the time of the assault, despite official warnings that an attack on an institution of higher learning was likely.

Al-Shabab, which is based in neighbouring Somalia, has pledged a "long, gruesome war" against Kenya.

The group said its attacks were in retaliation for acts by Kenya's security forces, who are part of the African Union's mission in Somalia against al-Shabab.


Garissa university campus

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

Attack as it happened

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