Christians targeted in al-Shabab attack on Kenya university that killed 147

WATCH ABOVE: Families are struggling to cope after gunmen from the Somalia-based terror group al-Shabab attacked a university. As Jackson Proskow reports, it now appears the attack was planned well in advance.

At least 147 people have been killed and 79 wounded after al-Shabab gunmen stormed a Kenya university, according to the Kenya National Disaster Operation Centre.

According to reports the siege began when masked men attacked Garissa University College around 5 a.m. Thursday in northeastern Kenya. The Associated Press reports the gunmen blew open the gates with explosives before rushing into the school and began targeting non-Muslim students.

Kenya’s Disaster Operation Centre says security forces killed four gunmen and rescued more than 500 students from the Garissa University College campus ending the bloody assault.

The Somali-based al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group has claimed responsibility for the attack. The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi issued a statement attributing the attack to the group and condemning it.

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The group has been blamed for a series of attacks in Kenya, including the siege at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi in 2013 that killed 67 people, as well as other violence in the north.

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READ MORE: Al-Shabab gunmen kill at least 147 in bloody massacre at Kenya university

Earlier Thursday, student Collins Wetangula told the Associated Press that when the militants stormed his student residence, he could hear them demanding if residents were Muslim or Christian.

“If you were a Christian you were shot on the spot. With each blast of the gun I thought I was going to die,” Wetangula told AP.

“All I could hear were footsteps and gunshots. Nobody was screaming because they thought this would lead the gunmen to know where they are,” he said. “The gunmen were saying sisi ni al-Shabab (Swaihi for we are al-Shabab).”


Al-Shabab originated in Somalia as the militant youth wing of an Islamist government that was defeated in 2006. According to AP, the group is estimated to have several thousand fighters, including a few hundred foreign fighters.

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Al-Shabab held Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, in 2006 until a U.N. backed national government forced it out in 2011 with the help of African Union forces. The rebels still control large swaths of rural land in Somalia where they impose strict Shariah law, including stoning women to death who are accused of adultery.

READ MORE: 10 things to know about Somalia’s militant group al-Shabab

The current leader of al-Shabab is Ahmed Umar, also known as Abu Ubaidah, who was chosen after Ahmed Abdi Godane, also known as Abu Zabyr was killed in U.S. airstrike in September 2014.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the group receives its income through various sources that includes revenue from other terrorist groups, state sponsors, piracy, kidnapping, and the extortion of local businesses.

In 2012, al-Shabab pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda according to the Site Intelligence Group, which significantly strengthened their ability to carry out attacks.


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