World Within Reach: Garissa University

Kali Croke, co-news editor

On April 2, Somali militants stormed into Kenya’s Garissa University killing 142 students, three security personnel and two professors. Following the attack, Jihadist militant group al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate based in Somalia, took responsibility for ordering the mass murders.

The count of 147 people does not include the estimated hundred that were additionally left injured. The university massacre marked the most deadly terrorist attack in Kenya since the 1998 bombing of the United States Embassy that left over 200 dead and thousands more injured.

Al-Shabaab carried out the shootings systematically, targeting Christians and converters to Islam, sparing the lives of Muslim students. Although Christians constitute the majority of religious persons in Kenya, al-Shabaab’s mission has long been to liberate the Muslim minority from the claimed oppression of Kenyan rule.

Authorities determined that the armed terrorists held numerous hostages during their 15-hour siege of the university, which began early in the morning while most students were sleeping. According to the Kenya National Police Service, Christian hostages were held in dorm rooms and were surrounded by explosives. Although the majority of deaths occurred within the school, some students, likely converters to Islam, were killed at the nearby mosque before the storming of the campus itself began.

Four militants were taken down by security forces combating the attack, but an over $200,000 USD bounty has been placed for the suspected orchestrator of the operation Mohammed Mohamud.

Aside from the localized emotional and physical damage in Garissa, the shooting has propagated a larger questioning of the entirety of Kenya’s national security and its relation with neighboring Somalia, whose border is a mere 90 miles from Garissa University.

Due to the African Union’s recent initiative against the al-Shabaab, Kenyan military force has been heavily involved in Somalia in combating this threat. In fact, a week before the attack, intelligence received notice of a planned siege by the jihadist group on Kenyan institutions in retaliation.

This is not the first time that al-Shabaab has carried out such terrorism in the state either. In addition to multiple mosque shootings in the eastern city of Mombasa, news of terrorism was last prevalent in 2013 following the siege of a mall in Nairobi where numerous individuals were held hostage and 67 were killed.

It is clear that in light of the contiguous attacks from war-torn Somalia, the Kenyan government has done little to augment its security to ensure the safety of its citizens and prevent such terrorism. Kenya is one of the most modern nations in Africa, but its weakness in protection has undermined its position as a beacon of stability in the uncertain region.

*Information from USA Today