A curfew has been imposed in parts of Kenya after 147 people were killed as Islamist terrorists attacked a university, singling out Christian students to murder.
A five-man cell of the Somali-based al-Shabaab group stormed into halls of residence at Garissa University College, 320km east of the capital Nairobi, yesterday morning, shooting at students before taking others hostage.
Kenya's National Disaster Operation Centre declared the siege over last night, with four terrorists killed and one arrested.
Many of those killed had their throats cut, according to one source who had spoken to morgue workers. The report could not be verified.
Garissa is a mostly Muslim town but the university enrols many Christian students and would therefore appear to be a target for jihadist groups such as Somalia's al-Shabaab that oppose Western education and development.
The attack was the deadliest in Kenya since the Westgate Shopping Centre siege in Nairobi in 2013, in which 68 civilians and four al-Shabaab terrorists were killed over four days.
Officials have imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on four regions near the Somalia border.
Yesterday's raid began before dawn, when the terrorists shot dead two unarmed guards manning the rudimentary gates at the entrance to the university's 10-acre compound.
They stormed student dormitories and began firing indiscriminately before reportedly slowing down their attack to ask Christians and Muslims to separate, a hallmark of recent al-Shabaab attacks in majority Christian Kenya.
Later, there were reports that the gang had positioned themselves on the roof of the building to shoot at people below.
Collins Wetangula, vice-chairman of the university's student union, said he thought he was saved by the sudden appearance of Kenyan troops as the gunmen were working their way through his dormitory.
The attackers opened the doors and asked if the people who had hidden inside were Muslims or Christians.
"If you were a Christian, you were shot on the spot. With each blast of the gun, I thought I was going to die," Mr Wetangula said.
"The next thing, we saw people in military uniform through the window of the back of our rooms who identified themselves as the Kenyan military."
The soldiers took him and about 20 others to safety.
Michael Bwana (20) said he and other survivors tried to call friends they believed were being held hostage, but their phones were switched off.
"Most of the people still inside there were girls," Mr Bwana said, referring to those still being held.
By yesterday evening, more than 500 students had been found safe. Emergency medical teams flew from the capital to help the overloaded district hospital. Queues of people formed to donate blood.
There were immediate criticisms that the Kenyan authorities had again failed to stop a major terrorist attack. (© Daily Telegraph, London)