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Kenya mourns victims of Garissa attack with Easter prayers

05 April 2015, 08:07

Nairobi - Kenyans prepared to dedicate Easter Sunday prayer services to the 148 victims of a university massacre by Somalia's al Shabaab militants, marking the first of three days of national mourning.

Easter ceremonies across the country were due to be held in the memory of the students and security personnel killed in a country where 80 percent of the population is Christian, with flags flying at half-mast in a show of respect.

The militants lined up non-Muslim students during the massacre Thursday, taunting them and then executing them in Shabaab's bloodiest attack to date, with President Uhuru Kenyatta warning they would face justice for the "mindless slaughter" and vowed to retaliate in the "severest way" to the killings.

The siege in the northeastern town of Garissa, close to the border with Somalia, claimed the lives of 142 students, three police officers and three soldiers.

The massacre was Kenya's deadliest attack since the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi, and Kenyatta declared three days of national mourning beginning Sunday, calling for the killings to unite and not divide the country.

Earlier on Saturday, the Shabaab warned of a "long, gruesome war" unless Kenya withdrew its troops from Somalia, and threatened "another bloodbath".

Hours after Shabaab's warning, police in Garissa paraded four corpses of the gunmen piled on top of each other face down in the back of a pick up truck followed by a huge crowd.

Police insisted the grim display was to see if anyone could identify the assailants, but some onlookers threw stones at the bodies as they passed, while others jeered and shouted at the dead.

In Nairobi's ethnic Somali district demonstrators took to the streets protesting against the al Shabaab, calling for unity in the country.

Five men have been arrested in connection with the attack.

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