Kenya copes with aftermath of university attack



 A day after a deadly terrorist attack on a university in northeastern Kenya, the east African nation on Friday tended to the scores of people who were injured and security forces sealed off the site of the tragedy.

The Kenyan government provided four helicopters to airlift scores of victims who were critically injured in Thursday's terrorist attack on the Garissa University College (GUC) by the Somalia-based Al Shabaab terrorist group.

Ten National Youth Service buses were also deployed to provide transport for over 300 students camping at the local military camp since Thursday afternoon after they were rescued from the college premises.

Addressing the students at the Garissa military camp, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Ole Nkaissery said the airplanes would transport those injured, including some security officers, to Nairobi to receive specialised medical care.

He said the incident has shocked the country and the international community and the government was determined to lessen the trauma and burden facing the affected students and their families.

"The students will be boarded into separate buses depending on the route taken to their area. For instance, those coming from western regions such as Kakamage, Busia and Kisumu will board the same bus so that it will ease their transportation," Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.

"The security officers are mopping up the college to ensure it is safe for the students to access back and salvage their documents and other items they might have left behind during the attack. The government has successfully ended the hostage crisis by killing the four terrorists," he noted.

"The Kenyan government will not be intimidated by the terrorists who resorted to killing innocent students and as a government, we are determined to fight them the best we can and I am confident we shall win this war against our enemies," he assured Kenyans.

Speaking at the same function, Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kimanyi announced the indefinite closure of the university.

"All the affected students will be redeployed to Moi University, which is the mother university so that their learning calendar is not disrupted by an act of terrorists. In conjunction with ministry of health we shall offer social-psycho trauma healing to the affected students and their parents," he noted.

Kaimanyi said the security of all educational institutions in the country would be beefed up to deter any repeat of what has been witnessed in GUC.

The college has been sealed off by heavily armed security officers and nobody is allowed to access in or out. About 500 people, among them relatives, family members and friends of those killed, were seen milling around the college in order to identify the bodies of the deceased still lying inside.

The smell of burnt bodies and human blood emanated from the college to quite some distance away. The families living around the college fled their homes following the terror siege.

Meanwhile, speaking to reporters in Garissa town, Kenyan Muslim leaders disassociated themselves from "fanatics who have perverted the religion to commit heinous crimes".

"The Muslim community in Garissa county strongly condemns barbaric acts committed against innocent university students. Our heartfelt condolences go to the victims' families," said Abdullah Salat, the chairman of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, Garissa branch.

Muslim leaders in Garissa county pledged cooperation with the government to eradicate the "monster of terrorism".

"As religious leaders in this county, we will support the government and the international community to root out terrorism," Salat told reporters.

According to a report from Somalia's capital Mogadishu, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud condemned the attack terming it "barbaric and with no place in culture and religion".

In a statement, Hassan Mohamud sent his condolences to "the families of those deceased in the attack by the merciless terrorists".

He said the attack showed the need to reinforce the anti-terror cooperation between Somalia and Kenya, with the aim of eliminating the menace from the region.

"I am quite certain that we will defeat these terrorist groups. Kenyans have sacrificed their lives to bring peace into our country, and I am aware that the terrorists are not happy with that support. Their acts will not hamper our struggle to root out terrorism and bring peace and prosperity to this region," said the president. - IANS