Garissa attack: Bodies still on ground; victims face down, shot in back of head

Garissa, Kenya (CNN)The ambulances come and go through the gates of Garissa University College, as townspeople strain from a distance to see what’s going on.

Soldiers shoo and drag them away, but they keep coming back.

In this small town, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) from the Somali border, nothing much usually happens.

But not so Thursday, when Al-Shabaab militants raided the Kenyan campus, leaving 147 dead.

A day later, there are still bodies on the school grounds waiting to be transported off.

A medic said most of the victims had been shot from behind, in the back of the head.

“They’re facing down, always,” a worker with St. John’s ambulance service said Friday. “They’re always facing down, and they’re shot in the heads, around the back.”
Raging gunfire
On Thursday, a detonation and nattering gunfire cut through the morning quiet, tearing many students in dormitories out of their sleep. “Never heard anything like this,” journalist Dennis Okari from CNN affiliate NTV said in a tweet, as he watched smoke rising over a student hostel.

Al-Shabaab gunmen had first stormed a Christian prayer service, where they killed some and took others hostage. Then they went across campus with them, shooting non-Muslims and sparing Muslims, a witness said.

They headed for the hostels.

Student Japhet Mwala lay in her bed. “We were sleeping when we heard a loud explosion that was followed by gunshots, and everyone started running for safety,” she told Agence France-Presse.

Awaking to terror: ‘I am lucky to be alive’

“There are those who were not able to leave the hostels where the gunmen headed and started firing. I am lucky to be alive because I jumped through the fence with other students,” she said.

Students ran — some crawled — away from the gunfire, Okari said. At one point, the gunmen pinned down a building where 360 students lived, Interior Minister Joseph Nkaissery said.

Okari took cover outside the campus and listened to explosions and gunfire for four hours. Kenyan security forces moved in and killed four gunmen.