NAIROBI – (AA) Kenyan authorities confirmed late Thursday the end of a 16-hour militant attack – claimed by the Al-Shabaab group – on northern Kenya’s Garissa University College, leaving at least 151 people dead.
“I want now to confirm to Kenya that the operation has ended successfully and that all four terrorists have been killed,” Cabinet Secretary for Interior Joseph Nkaissery told reporters.
“It’s unfortunate that the terrorists were able to kill young good citizens very early in the morning,” he said.
“As I speak to you, it is saddening that we have lost 147 lives,” added the government official.
Nkaissery said 79 students have been injured.
“Nine are in critical condition and have been airlifted to Nairobi,” he added.
The minister said the attackers had strapped themselves with IEDS.
“When our officers shot them, they blew up killing some of our men,” he added. “Some of the shrapnel injured most of our officers.”
The official said that in the morning one army officer, one policeman and two guards were killed.
Nkaissery did not, however, clarify how many of the 147 dead were students and how many were from the security forces.
He, meanwhile, assured Kenyans that 518 students have been accounted for and are in the military compounds in Garissa.
“Very early tomorrow, we will evacuate them to their homes,” he vowed. “Everything has been taken care of.”
The police inspector-general had earlier announced a curfew in Garissa County from 6pm to 6am, starting Friday.
Militants stormed the campus in the early hours of Thursday, holding an unknown number of students hostage for nearly 16 hours.
“We have so far killed dozens in the university and the operation is still underway,” Ali Dheere, a spokesman for Somalia’s Al-Shabaab militant group, told the Andalus radio station and the “Somali memo” website earlier.
“We attacked the University in Garissa because we are at war with Kenya,” he said.
This attack is the worst that Kenya has so far suffered at the hands of Al-Shabaab insurgents.
The Al-Qaeda-linked group has vowed to carry out attacks in Kenya as long as the East African country keeps troops in Somalia.
In late 2013, Al-Shabaab gunmen stormed Nairobi’s Westgate Mall, holding hundreds of people hostage.
The four-day saga left 67 people dead, including all of the hostage-takers.
Kenya’s worst terror attack took place in 1998 when 213 people were killed in the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi.
It was claimed by Al-Qaeda.
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