At least 79 killed after bloody end to hostage situation at Garissa university attacked by AL-Shabab fighters.
At least 79 people have been killed after Kenyan troops cleared a university dormitory in the town of Garissa in northeast Kenya that had been seized by AL-Shabab gunmen, officials and witnesses say.
Members of the Somalia-based group attacked the campus after dawn on Thursday and were holed up in a dormitory with hostages until the evening.
Security forces had encircled the building exchanging sporadic bursts of gunfire with the fighters inside, who were believed to have been holding scores of students hostage.
Witnesses told Al Jazeera they heard heavy gunfire and saw smoke coming from the campus on Thursday evening.
“I think the military is using all its might to finish the hostage situation, I don’t think this is a rescue mission anymore,” said Alinoor Moulid, a freelance journalist based in Garissa.
Surviving hostages speaking to Al Jazeera over the phone said scores appeared to have been killed.
A female student said there were more bodies than she could count, while another student said he had seen more than 100 bodies.
Kenyan officials said four attackers had been killed and another had been arrested.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said the lack of security infrastructure had contributed to the crisis.
“We have suffered unnecessarily due to a shortage of security personnel. Kenya needs additional officers, and I will not keep the nation waiting,” he said.
The country’s interior ministry announced a twelve hour curfew starting at 630pm in Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, and Tana River counties.
Earlier, the AL-Qaeda-linked AL-Shabab group said their gunmen were holding Christian hostages inside the complex in revenge for Nairobi’s troops fighting in Somalia.