Kenya al-Shabab: Five in custody after Garissa massacre

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionOne survivor told the BBC's Andrew Harding how two of her roommates were killed

Five people are in custody following the al-Shabab attack in eastern Kenya on Thursday which left almost 150 people dead, officials say.

Some suspects were arrested while trying to flee to neighbouring Somalia, the internal security ministry said. One is said to be a security guard.

At least 148 people died when gunmen attacked Garissa university campus. Four of the gunmen were also killed.

Al-Shabab has since pledged a "long, gruesome war" against Kenya.

The militant 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.

Security questions

In Garissa, a survivor has emerged from hiding more than two days after the assault was unleashed.

The 19-year-old girl was found unhurt in a cupboard on Saturday, but security officials had to bring in a teacher to convince her that it was safe to come out, the BBC's Andrew Harding reports.

She told reporters that she drank body lotion when she felt hungry.

Four other people were found alive on the campus on Friday, including two suspects. One was said to be a Tanzanian national with no known links to the university.

Image copyright AP
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 watched as the bodies of the dead gunmen were driven past

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

Their bodies have been 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.

Meanwhile the bodies of the four gunmen who died have been put on public display in Garissa.

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

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.

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.

However, the Kenyan authorities say that one of the five suspects arrested is believed to be a university security guard.

One survivor said the students had raised security issues late last year. Another said the gunmen appeared to know the site well.

Another witness told the BBC she heard the gunman receiving instructions on mobile phones, and speaking in Swahili, an official language in Kenya - raising the possibility the attackers were locals and not from Somalia, al-Shabab's heartland.

At the same time, an opposition MP from Garissa, Aden Duale, called for Somali refugees at the huge Dadaab camp near the border with Somalia to be deported and resettled.

In an address to the nation after the attack, President Uhuru Kenyatta said he had instructed the police chief to speed up the training of 10,000 recruits, because Kenya had "suffered unnecessarily" because of a shortage of security personnel.

Police in neighbouring Uganda say they have received information suggesting a similar attack is being planned there.

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

Who are al-Shabab?

Who is suspected mastermind?

Are you in the Kenyan town of Garissa? Did you witness the attack in the town's university? Are you affected by the attack? You can share your experiences by emailing

If you would be happy to speak further to a BBC journalist, please include a contact telephone number.

Email your pictures to, upload them here, tweet them to @BBC_HaveYourSay or text 61124. If you are outside the UK, send them to the international number +44 7624 800 100.

Or WhatsApp us on +44 7525 900971

Read our terms and conditions.

Or comment here:

Your contact details

If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.

Terms and conditions

The BBC's Privacy Policy

Related Topics

Around the BBC