Survivors blame lax security for varsity terrorists attack
By VINCENT AGOYA
Security was lax at Garissa University College before the attack in which 148 people died, a court was told on Wednesday.
During a cross-examination by defence lawyer Steve Mogaka, two students said there were no police officers on the college grounds when terrorists struck on the morning of April 2, 2015.
They said a group of Christian students who were praying at dawn were the first target.
Ms Rispa Nyang’au who was among the worshippers said she saw a tall man armed with a rifle and whose face was covered open the door to the hall they were praying and hurl an explosive device.
“I heard an explosion and saw sparks before the man walked into the hall and started shooting,” she said.
The court was told that there were about 30 students in the prayer meeting at the time of the killings.
Ms Nyang’au said the hall was not their usual meeting venue.
“We used to meet for morning prayers at a lecture theatre but lights were off that day so we opted for Lecture Hall One,” she said.
They were testifying in a case in which six men are charged with carrying out the attack.
Mr Mohamed Ali Abdikar, Mr Hassan Aden Hassan, Mr Sahal Diriye, Mr Osman Abdi and Mr Rashid Charles, a Tanzanian, have denied 162 counts of terrorism.
Another survivor, Evelyne Chepkemoi, said she was leading the morning prayers when the attack began.
She said one of the terrorists threw the device in the hall and she fell on the floor when something hit her on the face.
“I heard the door open. They were shooting at us. Shortly after, there was silence,” she said.
The two students have since been transferred to Moi University, Eldoret.
Ms Chepkemoi said she played dead from 5.30am when the attack began to around 11am when soldiers and police officers arrived.
“I was hit in the right hand and knees. I was also bleeding from the cut on my forehead,” she said.
The witness said mobile phones, including hers, kept ringing long after the killers left but she could not answer as she was weak.
“I was lying on my back. They had walked out but I could still hear gunshots,” she said.
Ms Chepkemoi also told the court that there were bodies on the lecture hall floor and blood was all over.
She recalled seeing KDF soldiers and Red Cross personnel enter the hall around 11am and as the survivors were being taken away, she could still hear more gunshots.
The student said four worshippers came out of the hall alive.
Ms Nyanga’u told the court that in the midst of the rescue, one of the gunmen at a window shot an officer dead.
The witnesses said they were taken to Garissa General Hospital where she received treatment. They were later airlifted to Nairobi.
Hearing of the case continues.