Kenya’s Garissa University Reopens, 9 Months After Al-Shabaab Attack

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Kenya’s Garissa University has reopened, nine months after an Al-Shabaab terrorist attack killed 148 people and injured almost 80.

The university campus was sieged by Al-Shabaab gunmen in the early hours of April 2, 2015. More than 700 students were taken hostage during the 10-hour ordeal, in what became Kenya’s deadliest attack since the US embassy was bombed in 1998.

 

Classes to resume

With classes set to resume this month for the first time since the attack, memories of what happened on April 2 are still raw. Public sentiment is largely one of defiance, supporting the reopening to prove that terrorist attacks will never bring Kenya to a halt.

New security measures and equipment have been put in place over the last nine months, to ensure the campus is better positioned to prevent any repeats of the tragedy. Principal, Ahmed Osman Warfa, recently highlighted the pain everyone at the university still feels:

“I wish I was armed when the attackers struck,” he said. “I would have defended my students against them. It pains me that we lost such a huge number of people, and I wish there was something we could have done differently.”

 

Students relocated

While returning to Garissa will be difficult for its staff, the students who survived the incident will have the hardest time returning to class. The vast majority of students who were present at the time of the attack have been redeployed to other campuses, but some 60 students will be returning to the same campus where their fellow students were killed.

However, the emphasis for now is ensuring Garissa University remains a safe place for students both returning and joining for the first time. Garissa’s location in the northeast means it remains susceptible to Al-Shabaab attacks, however, North-Eastern regional coordinator Mohamud Saleh is confident real progress has been made.

“Since the attack on the college, we increased police patrols in and around the town, and we have not had any other such incident in Garissa for the last many months,” he was quoted in Nation. “This shows there is something we are doing right.”

 

Featured image:

Garissa downtown” by Chking2. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.