Kenyan university reopens nine months after al-Shabab attack killed 148

NAIROBI, Kenya -- A university where Islamic extremists killed 148 people nine months ago reopened on Monday, an event welcomed by many Kenyans as a victory against the jihadis.

See Full Article

"Just by opening the university we have won the war against al-Shabab," said Khadija Mohamed, who was a counsellor at the school when it was attacked last April, and who was among the returning staff and faculty. About 60 students are expected when some classes resume next week and the bulk of them, some 600, in September.

Even though there was high security, returning to the college in Garissa, a town in eastern Kenya, was difficult for Mohamed who remembers the carnage and the victims.

"Coming back to this college gives me a flashback of the killings," she told The Associated Press. "As their counsellor, the students were very close to me. They were like my children. I lost many of my children."

Four gunmen of the Somali extremist group stormed the university at dawn April 2, separating the Muslims students and killing the non-Muslims.

Before killing the students, some of the gunmen ordered their victims to phone their families and ask them to tell President Uhuru Kenyatta to withdraw Kenyan troops from Somalia.

All four gunmen were killed by a police commando unit, nearly 12 hours after the attack began. The government has been heavily criticized for an uncoordinated and slow response to the attack despite the college being just 500 metres (550 yards) from a military base.

Since then the bullet-scarred walls of the university have been repaired. A dorm where many students were mercilessly shot has been renamed after a river.

Kenyans and media outlets lauded the reopening on Twitter, with one radio station proclaiming: "The pen is mightier than the gun."

Registrar Isaack Mohammed Noor said at least 150 of 200 staff had reported for work. Police wearing camouflage uniforms and carrying automatic weapons patrolled the grounds. A police post with 20 officers has been established at the campus to boost security.

The bloodbath at the university was the worst in the wave of extremist attacks Kenya has experienced since it sent its troops to Somalia in 2011 to fight al-Shabab, al-Qaida's affiliate in East Africa.

Noor told AP that he was living at the school during the attack and has vivid memories of the rampage in which 142 students, many of whom he knew, and six security officers died.

Reopening the university is a victory, said Ali Bashir, a high school teacher who taught Kenyan student Abdirahim Abdullahi, believed to be the leader of the attack.

"The reopening of the university will have youth occupied in pursuing education, and this will prevent terror groups from radicalizing the youth in our region," Bashir said.

Al-Shabab in neighbouring Somalia has recruited hundreds of Kenyan youths, who make up the largest contingent of its foreign fighters.

About 60 privately sponsored students who survived the attack are expected to return by Wednesday and teaching should start next week, said Noor. Some 600 student survivors, who were enrolled on government scholarships, were moved to the main campus in the western town of Eldoret and will continue with their education there, Noor said. New students will be admitted in September, he said.

AP writer Yassin Juma in Garissa, Kenya contributed to this story.


Latest Canada & World News

  • At least 13 killed, dozens injured in California tour bus crash

    World News CBC News
    A tour bus crashed into the back of a semi-truck on a southern California highway before dawn on Sunday, killing 13 people and injuring 31, an NBC affiliate reported.4 dead after steel pole slices through bus in California crashPhotographs from the scene showed the front of the tour bus wedged inside the back of the trailer, with emergency workers using metal ladders to reach the inside of the bus. Source
  • Calgary woman's $2.4M lawsuit alleges tainted wonton soup put her in coma

    Canada News CTV News
    A Calgary woman has launched a $2.4-million lawsuit over a bowl of wonton soup, which she alleges gave her food poisoning and put her into a coma. Nicole Laurin says she became extremely ill after eating a bowl of wonton soup from Saigon Bistro in Calgary, on Oct. Source
  • Where they stand: Clinton, Trump on the issues

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- A look at where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stand on three dozen issues: ABORTION Persistent Republican-led efforts to restrict access to abortion and to curb government funding for Planned Parenthood have been hotly debated in Washington and in states. Source
  • Dog reunited with owner after being taken from outside store

    Canada News CTV News
    A dog that was stolen from outside of a grocery store in Toronto has been reunited with its owner after teens found the dog with a passed-out homeless man. The three-year-old German Shepherd named Charlie was left tied outside of a grocery store on Oct. Source
  • At least 7 dead after tour bus, truck crash in California

    World News CTV News
    DESERT HOT SPRINGS, Calif. -- A tour bus and a semi-truck crashed on a highway in Southern California early Sunday, killing at least seven people, the California Highway Patrol said. CHP Officer Stephanie Hamilton confirmed the fatalities to the Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs ( ) as of 7:30 a.m. Source
  • Former Habs coach and Senator Jacques Demers released from hospital

    Canada News CBC News
    Senator and former Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Demers is back at home after going to hospital Saturday. His Senate office would only confirm that Demers, 72, was at home Sunday, but didn't provide any details about the reason he went to hospital. Source
  • Tiny homes' popularity surging while municipal bylaws lag

    Canada News CBC News
    Tiny Homes are taking off in popularity with people across the country joining the miniature movement but homebuilders in Manitoba say municipal bylaws haven't caught up with the craze. Darrell Manuliak, who owns Mini Homes of Manitoba with his wife Anita Munn, said they have sold five of the tiny dwellings in their first year of business in the province. Source
  • Quebec MP Steven Blaney enters Conservative Party leadership race

    Canada News CBC News
    Conservative MP Steven Blaney is joining the party's leadership race. Blaney made the announcement at an event in his riding near Quebec City today. Blaney, 51, has been an MP since 2006. He held various cabinet portfolios under the former Tory government. Source
  • International Space Station accepts 1st Virginia delivery in 2 years

    World News Toronto Sun
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The International Space Station received its first shipment from Virginia in more than two years Sunday following a sensational nighttime launch observed 250 miles up and down the East Coast. Orbital ATK’s cargo ship pulled up at the space station bearing 5,000 pounds of food, equipment and research. Source
  • Edmonton refugee family suffers carbon monoxide poisoning after furnace breaks

    Canada News CTV News
    An Edmonton refugee family is recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning, the result of a broken furnace and lack of a carbon monoxide detector in the home. The family from Ethiopia says their furnace stopped working on Thursday night and by morning, the family felt sick. Source