Kenya is marking the anniversary of the horrific Garissa attack, which is said to be the deadliest attack in the country since al-Qaeda’s bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi in 1998 which had a record 213 death toll, today. The attack which occurred on this day (April 2nd) last year saw heavily armed gun men storming Garissa University, killing two security guards before beginning to fire at students. The group claimed it was retaliation for acts by Kenya’s security forces who are a part of the African Union’s mission in Somalia where they are mostly based.
A witness said at the time that Christians were singled out and shot and at the end of the siege like attack, 148 people were reported dead. 79 people out of the 500 students who escaped the attack at the time were severely injured.
It took a costly 16 hours for a special anti-terror unit to bring the attack to an end, especially as their deployment was slowed by a senior police officer who had commandeered the force’s airplane for a family excursion. Eventually, four of the gunmen died after they were cordoned off in a dormitory and their suicide vests detonated. Kenyans expressed disappointment at the response of the security forces but more than that, the country was riddled with grief at the loss of lives of the young students.
Today as they mark the anniversary of the horrific event, thousands gathered at the college, 100 of whom took part in a run to commemorate the victims, wearing T-shirts with peace slogans. Later on, prayers and a candlelight vigil will be held both in Garissa and in the capital Nairobi and will be led by government officials with even the President, Uhuru Kenyatta, expected to be present.