3 Apr 2015

Militants kill 147 at Kenyan university

3:25 pm on 3 April 2015

An overnight curfew is in place in parts of Kenya after an attack by Islamic militant gunmen killed 147 people at Garissa University College.

Paramedics help a student injured during the attack by al-Shabaab extremists.

Paramedics help a student injured during the attack by Al-Shabaab extremists. Photo: AFP

The gunmen from Somali militant group Al-Shabaab attacked the campus of the university on Thursday, using grenades to blast open the gates.

Students in a hostel were attacked as they slept; the gunmen spared Muslim students and took many Christians hostage.

A male student hostage is escorted out of Garissa University.

A male student hostage is escorted out of Garissa University. Photo: AFP

Soldiers killed four gunmen as they stormed a building.

Soldiers killed four gunmen as they stormed a building on the university campus. Photo: AFP

The siege ended nearly 15 hours after the pre-dawn attack at the university, located near the border with war-torn Somalia.

Reports have said the gunmen were wearing suicide vests and were armed with AK-47s.

Interior Minister Joseph Nkaissery said four gunmen, strapped with explosives, were behind the attack, the same number that killed 67 people during a 2013 bloodbath at a shopping mall in Nairobi.

The gunmen were killed when Kenyan troops launched an assault on the final building where the insurgents had holed up, he said.

He said the militants exploded "like bombs" as the siege ended.

It is not clear if the attackers deliberately detonated the explosives as police approached, or if they went off after being hit by gunfire.

At least 79 people were injured and many airlifted to Nairobi, Kenya's national disaster body said. Some 587 students are reported to have escaped the attack.

Four regions have been placed under a night-time curfew following the slaughter.

Al-Shabaab, who carried out the deadly attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi in 2013, claimed responsibility for the raid.

Kenya has been hit by a wave of grenade and gun attacks, often blamed on sympathisers of Al-Shabab and sometimes aimed at police targets, since the army crossed into southern Somalia in 2011 to attack Islamist bases.

The United States said it was offering Kenya's government assistance to take on Al-Shabab and would continue to work with others in the region also fighting the group.

The Ministry of Foreign Affair said no New Zealanders were caught up in the attack.

It said there were 72 New Zealanders registered as being in Kenya, but none were in Garissa.

One of the injured is taken to Kenyatta hospital

One of the injured is taken to Kenyatta hospital. Photo: AFP

A Kenyan soldier standing guard at the Garissa University campus.

A Kenyan soldier standing guard at the Garissa University campus. Photo: AFP

A map of Kenya

Photo: 123RF

- BBC / Reuters / AFP