Students trickle back to Kenya varsity 9 months after massacre

Rescue workers help a woman at Garissa university in this file picture

Rescue workers help a woman at Garissa university in this file picture

Garissa — Students trickled back yesterday for classes at a university in northeastern Kenya where at least 148 people were killed by Islamist gunmen last April.

Security was tight but only around 20 students resumed classes at Garissa university, which had some 800 students before the massacre.

The high-profile assault on Garissa University College on April 2, 2015 was the deadliest yet in Kenya by the Somali-led, al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab group. Nearly all the victims were students.

“I’m very happy for the reopening, we went for our first lesson and we’re really back to the university as normal,” said Shamza Abdi, a student. “There are some memories of a lot of our friends we lost here, but despite what happened, life must go on, we just pray for our friends,” she added.

The gunmen had lined up non-Muslim students for execution in what President Uhuru Kenyatta described at the time as a “barbaric medieval slaughter”.

University principal Ahmed Osman Warfa, speaking last week when teachers returned, said security had been tightened with a new police post built within the compound and a perimeter fence planned.

“I wish I was armed and trained on the use of firearms on that night, I would have fought with the attackers and at least ensure I’ve saved some of my students from their killers,” the principal said.

Witnesses last week gave evidence in the ongoing trial of five men accused of supporting the attack.

The four gunmen who carried out the massacre were all killed when Kenyan commandos stormed the building.

The Garissa attack followed the 2013 siege of the upmarket Westgate shopping mall in the capital Nairobi, when four Shabaab gunmen killed at least 67 people. —AFP

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