Gunmen storm the Garissa University College compound in Kenya near the border with Somalia, killing at least 70 people in an attacked claimed by al-Shabaab.
Picture: Kenyan defence forces move behind a thicket in Garissa town after the raid
Masked gunmen in Kenya stormed a college campus in the north eastern town of Garissa near the border with Somalia in the early hours of Thursday morning. Explosions were set off and gunfire was exchanged with security services for several hours, the Red Cross and Kenyan media said.
Two guards were initially reportedly killed in the attack, although the death toll soon rose to 14, according to Kenya police. Later on Thursday Kenya’s interior minister said the death toll had risen to at least 70. The number of people injured in the attack was reported as 79 by the government disaster body.
Radical Islamist group al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was holding Christian hostages inside the college.
Interior Minister Joseph Nkaissery said 500 out of 815 students at the university have been accounted for, according to Kenya’s national disaster agency, although it did not say how many remained trapped in the campus.
The interior ministry also said that the seige was “almost over” and that two al-Shabaab fighters had been killed by security services.
A policewoman said the attackers shot two guards as their first victims amid a chaotic scene.
“Two guards who were manning the gate at the university have been killed,” she said. “We can hear gunshots from inside the compound but at this point we can’t tell who is shooting at who or what.”
Kenyan defence forces were seen moving behind a thicket in Garissa town after the raid.
Somali Islamist militant group al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack,
The al-Shabaab attack is the latest of several similar incidents across Kenya.
In September 2013 the al-Qaeda linked group attacked the upscale Westgate shopping mall in the capital Nairobi.
The Westgate attack killed 67 people, the deadliest attack by al-Shabaab since its attacks in Kenya started in 2011, when Kenyan troops were sent to Somalia to help the fight against the militant group there.