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African press review 7 April 2015

Text by: William Niba
5 min

The Kenyan press stands by the "big heart nation" trying to come to terms with the Garissa University massacre. 


Daily Nation reports from Nairobi's city mortuary where parents have had to go through the pain and horror of physically examining more than a hundred bodies to identify their children.

Some of the bodies are disfigured beyond recognition. According to the paper, the father who spent the better part of Monday checking the teeth of all female victims, hoping to identify his daughter, is clinging to the hope that she is alive. Only 48 of the 148 students killed by Al-Shebab terrorists have been identified, according to press reports.

Other papers caught traumatised parents shedding tears of joy as their children returned home after a four-day wait that seemed like eternity.

The press is full of hair-raising accounts of the students' bravery. Mango Ochwangi recalled to his parents how their student leader Laban Kumba wrestled with one of the terrorists but was overpowered and shot dead as he watched.

Another, Geoffrey Ongeri, narrated to the Nation how he and his friends managed to run out of the hostel after being woken up by gunshots. Their chance, he said, came when a terrorist stopped shooting to load his gun. Ongeri said they ran out of their hostel towards the college fence, scaled it and then ran to a nearby police station and alerted them of the attack.

Another survivor spoke toStandard Digital about why there were many female colleagues among the casualties. The terrorists, he said, shouted outside the womens’ hostel in Swahili: "If you don’t want to die, come outside. According to our religion, we do not kill girls. Walk down the stairs to the ground level, or alternatively call your fathers to come and save you." The female students walked to the ground floor only for the attackers to indiscriminately spray them with bullets, according to the student.

Al-Shebab - who are they?

As news emerged that a young Kenyan lawyer, Abdirahim Mohamed Abdullahi, was among the four Al-Shebab gunmen killed in the rescue operation, Standard Digital is scratching its head and wondering how to face the enemy within.

According to the paper, it is heart-stopping to realise that supporters, sympathisers and purveyors of terror now live in their midst, go to their schools and commute in a matatu like any other Kenyan.

Abdullahi has been linked to another Kenyan terrorist, Abdul Hajira, who blew himself up outside Pangani police station in May 2014, killing two police officers and his driver after he was arrested. Hajira was a former player in a top team in the Kenya Premier League and the son of a Kenyan soldier who started a football club in Majengo slum, thought to be the main source of radicalised youths heading to Somalia for militancy training.

The report is published alongside an article about some 40 Kenyan families whose children went missing over the last year, amid fears they had gone to Somalia to join the Al-Shebab terrorist group.

In nearby Uganda, the Daily Monitor is reporting the arrest of a Somali man suspected to be an agent of the Al-Shebab militants in Kenya. According to the paper, the arrest was conducted after students at Ark Hostel in Wandegeya informed police of a suspicious man taking pictures of the hostel. Security has been on high alert there following the attacks on Garissa University in Kenya.

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