Al-shabab gunmen who killed 148 people at Garissa University College in Kenya as they shouted “God is great” appeared to have planned extensively, even targeting a site where Christians had gone to pray, survivors have said.
One of the first things the fighters did when they attacked the campus early on Thursday, survivor Helen Titus said, was to head for a lecture hall where Christians were in early morning prayer. Al-Shabab is a Somalia-based armed group with ties to al-Qaeda.
“They investigated our area. They knew everything,” Helen Titus told the Associated Press at a hospital in Garissa where she was being treated for a bullet wound to the wrist. Officials said 79 people were wounded.
Titus, a 21-year-old English literature student, said she covered her face and hair with the blood of classmates and lay still at one point, pretending to be dead.
Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb, reporting from outside the campus, said bodies had been taken to the capital Nairobi and that relatives of the victims had been told to collect them.
“Forensic investigations have been going on [at the campus] and people have been waiting to learn more about what exactly happened,” he said.
Police on Friday were at the campus, taking fingerprints from the bodies of the four assailants and of the students and security officials who died, for thorough identification purposes. The northeastern Kenyan town lacks the facilities to store all the bodies.
The interior ministry revised the death toll on Friday, saying 148 people had been killed. They included 142 students, three policemen and three soldiers.
Thursday’s attack, in which all four assailants were killed, was the deadliest on Kenya’s soil since the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi, which killed more than 200 people.
Al-Shabab is also blamed for the siege on a shopping mall in Nairobi in September 2013, which killed 67 people.