At least 70 people have been confirmed dead in a terrorist attack by gunmen on a university in eastern Kenya.
Two police officers are among the dead following heavy gunfire and explosions in a campus building at Garissa University. At least 79 others have been wounded.
Somalia’s al Shabaab militant group has claimed responsibility for the pre-dawn attack.
“We sorted people out and released the Muslims,” said spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab.
“There are many dead bodies of Christians inside the building. We are also holding many Christians alive. Fighting still goes on inside the college.”
Two of the militants have been killed and one arrested as he tried to flee, according to Kenya’s interior minister, Joseph Nkaissery.
Student Michael Bwana, who managed to flee, said most of the hostages were girls.
Kenya Police Chief Joseph Boinet told reporters that gunmen forced their way into the university at 5.30am by shooting at the guards manning the main gate.
“The gunmen shot indiscriminately while inside the university compound,” he said.
“Police… engaged the gunmen in a fierce shootout; however, the attackers retreated and gained entry into one of the hostels.”
Collins Wetangula, the vice chairman of the student union, said he was preparing to take a shower when he heard gunshots coming from a dorm.
“All I could hear were footsteps and gunshots; nobody was screaming because they thought this would lead the gunmen to know where they are,” he said.
“The gunmen were saying sisi ni al-Shabab (Swahili for we are al-Shabab).
“If you were a Christian you were shot on the spot. With each blast of the gun I thought I was going to die.”