According to sources on the ground in Garissa, the death toll will easily exceed the last official count of 147.
Those helping remove bodies say at least 286 died at the scene. It’s unclear how many died later of injuries.
Witnesses say the attackers did not separate Christians from Muslims nor was anyone beheaded. The guards manning the entrance of the university were shot because they were in uniform. (Unlikely the attackers knew they were Muslim).
In all seven gunmen had stormed the university; four killed by special forces, one had detonated his suicide vest, and two were arrested.
As with Westgate this latest Al Shabaab attack underscores lack of command. Witnesses say snipers with Kenya’s elite GSU Recce SWAT unit took just fifteen minutes to find and kill four of the seven attackers. However they didn’t arrive until around 5:30 pm – 12 hours after the attack began. If that’s true the scenario was the exact opposite of Westgate Mall incident in which Recce snipers were first special ops to arrive into the mall first and had things in hand until KDF blundered in hours later, looted shops, then blew it up. Both instances reveal a complete lack of initiative and small unit leadership and absence of standard operating procedures, according to Andrew Franklin, a security analyst and former U.S. Marine.
After Mpekatoni (June 2014) and Mandera attacks (December 2014) Kenyatta sacked the head of National Intelligence Services, the Inspector General of Police, and the former Minister of the Interior Joseph ole Lenku.
Some say they are baffled that General Julius Karangi still remains chief of Kenya Defense Forces.
A KDF soldier I know said to me via Whatsapp, “Tears. We failed those students.”
Categories: Conflict In Context - Field Notes