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Garissa University deserted after Al-Shabaab attack

25 April 2015, 08:52

Garissa - A walk at the Garissa University College in northeast Kenya that was once a beehive of activity is now like a forgotten graveyard, with little movement of guards and security officers who are strolling the compound.

The college was on April 2 the center of attraction worldwide when Al-Shabaab militants attacked students at the institution, killing 148 people, among them 142 students.

A short notice pinned at the facility welcomes visitors to the college, starting that the institute has been closed until further notice.

The first thing that attracts eyes to the ill-fated college is the huge green gate that is situated under a canopy of green and well groomed giant trees in both sides immediately you turn right from a bend of stretch road from main Kismayu road.

On the entrance of the college is a squeezed tarmacked alley, both sides of the road is crowded with human settlements, which makes it easy to enter into the college just upon "climbing" into the perimeter wall that surrounds the neighborhood homesteads.

On the left side of the gate contacts of the university and telephone number are well written in bold, and at the lower part of the same wall are details of the institution.

Also see: VIDEO: Garissa University attack survivors to join Moi University

When the gate is opened there is a straight path that when one look directly one will see the students play ground and the high- rise barb wire fence.

There is a mosque on the right after entering the institution almost so close to the gate, almost same level to the entrance.

The mosque cannot be seen easily because it is hidden by overgrown trees that provide a good shelter, which has been used by the students to conduct their reading when classes are extremely hot due to the prevailing scorching sun in the northern region.

It is in the mosque that the terrorists are said to have spent sometime, as they disguised themselves as worshippers, but in the real sense surveying the compound before striking.

In front of the mosques but few meters from the right to the mosques there is building that houses a number of offices including the dean of students and different department and schools at the university.

On the other side of the path that comes from the gate is administration block which is two storey building that has the offices.

The institution library is connected to the administration block but there is a path between them that heads straight to the kitchen and dining hall, on the left before reaching the kitchen there is an auditorium hall that serves as student's entertainment hall in the university.

The auditorium hall which is about 15m in length and estimated 7m its width has a raised podium at its front parts while few meters from the podium its has stares that goes up for easy view for the audience in the hall.

Going further after kitchen is the two storey hostels, Tana and Elgon which is for men and women respectively, there is also another small hostel under the Elgon boarding house.

It is at the Algon A hostel where many students were massacred. Three of them who refused to cooperate with the militants were butchered.

A stench smell of blood is still evident in the ill fated hostel, this is despite the fact that the place has been cleaned several times.

The wall is riddled with marks of bullets with shattered windows, a clear indication of the battle that was there between security officers and the militants.

While at the hostels one will see the ongoing construction of 4. 6 million U.S. dollars, an ultra modern hostel projects which was initiated May last year. The project has since stalled and it is not clear when it will start again.

The attackers according to the survivors interviewed by Xinhua gained entrance to the institution using different path to access the hostels.

"It is clear that they did not all enter from the gate at once as it has been widely reported. When we had the first gunshot at the gate, it did not take even ten seconds before we had several others in the hostel which are situated almost 100 meters from the gate," Cheruiyot Benjamin who survived the attack told Xinhua on Thursday.

Also read: US freezes assets of Garissa attack suspect

At the college, Xinhua finds three security guards seated right at the gate as they converse in low tones. They say that the college will never get back to its normal self.

"It is disheartening what these heartless terrorists did to our beloved brothers and sisters. Look at how this place looks like now. Which parent in hisher sound mind will wish to bring his or her child here again even if it is re-opened in after 20 years," said one security guard who refuses to be identified.

The University Council chairman Hukka Wario said the terrorist' s inflicted damage in the institution that will take "quiet some time to repair."

Members from the business community are also feeling the pinch following the closure of the learning institution with majority admitting that their businesses were booming before the closure of the institution.

"I have personally suffered double tragedy, that of loosing close friends and our businesses being crippled since majority of my customers were the students," Ibrahim Mohamed who has a shop right outside the college.

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- Xinhua


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