Kenya university attack: shots going off 'like fireworks'

Police attempting to 'flush out' gunmen from student accommodation after 15 people killed


At least 15 people have died and dozens of others have been injured after Al-Shabaab gunmen opened fire on a university compound in north-eastern Kenya early this morning.

Out of 815 students, 535 are yet to be accounted for, after heavy gunfire and explosions were heard at Garissa University College, near the border with Somalia. The militant group said it was taking Christian hostages and freeing Muslims. Police told local media there was a shootout between the attackers and officers who were guarding the student accommodation."The attackers shot indiscriminately while inside the university compound," said Joseph Boinnet, inspector general of police. "However, the attackers retreated and gained entry into the hostels."Boinnet said police and other security agencies were currently "engaged in an elaborative process of flushing out the gunmen from the hostels".A Daily Nation reporter said he had seen the bodies of two guards near the university's main gate, while Kenya Red Cross officials said at least 65 people had been rushed to hospital.One witness told local television station NTV that gunshots had been going off "like fireworks". She and others escaped by fleeing across a field as shots were fired towards them.Another witness, who escaped with the help of security officers, said he heard gunmen asking people in his hostel if they 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," he is quoted as saying.Somali Al-Shabaab militants have frequently targeted Kenya in the past four years, including the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi in 2013.Kenya's Star newspaper says today's raid follows an intelligence report, issued last week, warning that the militant group was planning an attack on major institutions to avenge the killing of one of their leaders. Adan Garar, who was killed in a drone strike last month, was believed to be the mastermind behind the Westgate Mall attack, which left 67 people dead.

The British Foreign Office had warned against all but essential travel for areas within 60km of the Kenya-Somali border, as well as Garissa County.

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