Garissa University College, the site of a massacre waged by jihadists in retaliation against the government back in April 2015, finally reopened yesterday.
Only about 60 students are expected to come to classes when they resume next week while another 600 are expected to come in September.
A whopping 148 people (142 students and six security guards) were killed in the attack coordinated by four al-Shabaab gunmen, al-Shabaab being a Somali extremist group. As a result, there are extra security forces in the eastern Kenya town of Garissa. While one counselor, Khadija Mohamed, remarks that reopening the school is an accomplishment against local terrorists, she admits her own discomfort being on campus.
The Associated Press reports her saying:
“Coming back to this college gives me a flashback of the killings…As their counselor, the students were very close to me. They were like my children. I lost many of my children.”
Four gunmen of the Somali extremist group stormed the university at dawn April 2, separating the Muslims students and killing the non-Muslims.
Before killing the students, some of the gunmen ordered their victims to phone their families and ask them to tell President Uhuru Kenyatta to withdraw Kenyan troops from Somalia.
All four gunmen were killed by a police commando unit, nearly 12 hours after the attack began. The government has been heavily criticized for an uncoordinated and slow response to the attack despite the college being just 500 meters (550 yards) from a military base.
The school’s buildings have been restored with new walls and even new names to undo the physical damage and the stigma that the massacre left behind. There is also a police post now boasting 20 officers to increase security on campus; they’re decked in camouflage uniforms and automatic weapons.
The massacre is considered one of the worst the country has seen in years, especially since Kenya first began fighting al-Shabaab, a group associated with the al-Qaida, in 2011. It is unsurprising that al-Shabaab led its attack on the university, as it has already focused its energy on recruiting hundreds of Kenyan youths.
Still, there is hope. Ali Bashir, a teacher who once instructed the student that is believed to have led the attack says:
“The reopening of the university will have youth occupied in pursuing education, and this will prevent terror groups from radicalizing the youth in our region.”
[SOURCE: Huffington Post]