NAIROBI, Kenya — As families and friends of the Garissa University attack victims lined-up at the Nyayo National Stadium to provide details of their loved ones, pressure mounted on the government to fight terrorists who have pledged further attacks on the country.
“We’ll not (stand for) continuing losing our children in cold blood because the government has failed to protect them,” lawmaker Chris Wamalwa visiting families at the Stadium.
He blamed anti-terrorist police unit for failing to prevent the attack and urged the president to disband the unit and form another tasked fighting terrorism. Lawmakers also called for increased cross-border surveillance – the terrorists are believed to be of Somali origin, according to police.
In the aftermath of Thursday’s attack allegedly by al-Shabaab militants on Garissa University that killed 148, some Kenyans called for unity in the country – Muslims make up about 11 percent of Kenya’s population.
“It was a terror attack, and not a religious war,” said lawmaker Raila Odinga. “We must deal with it appropriately now.”
On Saturday, the Kenyan Muslim community in Nairobi’s Eastleigh area took to the streets in protest against terrorism in their name – the attackers singled out Christians at the school, according to witness accounts.
“We want to condemn the attack and urge the government to take security seriously and take actions against terrorist suspects,” said Ishmael Abdul, of the community. “We’ll not sit and see terrorists divide this country.”
About nine suspects captured over the weekend remain in custody with law enforcement continuing to search for others involved in Thursday’s attack. On Friday, police in Mombasa arrested four suspected terrorists they believe were planning to attack City Mall in Nyali as they drove in, according to Mombasa county commissioner Nelson Marwa.
The son of a Kenyan government official, Abdirahim Mohammed Abdullahi, has been identified as one of the gunmen involved in the shootings.
His father had reported his son missing last year and said he feared that he had gone to Somalia, said Njoka.
“We want to warn terrorists that that we won’t spare them if arrested,” said Willy Mutunga, president of the Kenyan judiciary. “We’ll prosecute them accordingly.”
Odinga said Kenya must do more than just catch terrorist. “The Daadab Refugee Camp is the breeding camp of the Al Shabaab militia,” he said of the compound near the university, echoing calls for it to be closed and Somalis repatriated.
Universities’ Academic Staff Union chairman Sammy Kubasu wants the university shut down.
“We want the government convert Garissa University to a military training college,” he said.
In Nairobi, parents and friends of the victims continued to search for information about their sons and daughters and mourn, while aid workers counseled patience.
“There are still some students in Garissa who escaped and survived the attack,” said Abbas Gullet, chairman of the Kenya Red Cross. “They might still at the military camp. We urge parents to be calm as we locate their sons and daughters.”
Some spoke of that fateful morning. Monicah Achieng, 49, was contacted by her son Aggrey Momanyi in the morning of the attack, she said.
“I called my son to know how she was faring on after getting news of the attack, she said. “My son hung up on my call and texted me back saying, “Mum, I am having a problem. We’ve been attacked by al-Shabaab. Please pray for me,” the message read.
Achieng said she was shocked to learn that her son was later shot and killed by militants.
“Momanyi was the hope of my life — I have no other child, “she lamented. “They should have killed me and left my son to live.'”
Milton Mukhwana who lost his daughter said he will never forget what happened.
“I loved my daughter so much — she was close to me,” he said. “I will never forget this, let her soul rest in peace.”
Contributing: Associated Press
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