Gunmen Attack Garissa University College In Kenya & Students May Have Been Taken Hostage — UPDATE
Authorities said that masked gunmen attacked Garissa University College in northeastern Kenya on Thursday, prompting a shootout with security forces for hours. Two campus security guards have been killed, according to Reuters, and students may have been taken hostage. According to a tweet from Kenya Red Cross, 30 people have been taken to hospitals, including four suffering serious injuries. The majority of casualties were gunshot wounds. Update: Officials have confirmed that 147 people have been killed and dozens more wounded.
In a news brief, the Office of the Inspector General National Police Service said gunmen entered the Kenyan university's gate at around 5:30 a.m. and "shot indiscriminately" while inside the campus. The statement said a shootout began between the gunmen and campus police, causing the attackers to retreat and enter the student dorms.
I urge Kenyans to remain calm as our officers work to make sure that the attackers are ejected from the hostel and normalcy returns within the shortest time possible.
A policewoman told Reuters that two guards manning the university gate were killed. She also said that the gunmen likely took student hostages since many are trapped within the Garissa campus.
We can hear gunshots from inside the compound but at this point we can't tell who is shooting at who or what.
According to Al Jazeera, witnesses said explosions and heavy gunfire hit the university at around Thursday dawn as gunmen stormed the campus. Ambulances were reportedly seen taking injured students to nearby hospitals. Freelance journalist Alinoor Moulid told Al Jazeera:
According to some of the students who escaped, there are around five gunmen and they entered the university dormitory while students were sleeping. ... It is hard to tell (about casualties) because the area is now cordoned off, and it is heavily guarded. At the moment, I can hear sirens, and at some point I could hear an exchange of gunfire.
No group has claimed responsibility as of late Thursday morning. But Al Shabab militants from Somalia have previously targeted Kenya. The extremist group claimed responsibility for the 2013 attack at a Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, where 67 people were killed. Both the United States and the UK consider Al Shabab a terrorist group.