Three Years after the Garissa University Attack, Trauma Still Lingers
By Nathan Johnson
04/03/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Three years ago, 145 Christian students, two security guards and a military officer were brazenly and brutally massacred when a group of four heavily-armed terrorists attacked Garissa University in northeastern Kenya. The April 2, 2015, attack has been dubbed the second deadliest attack by al-Shabaab militants in Kenya, coming second only to the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi, which killed 213 people.
“That fateful day will remain in my mind forever. I was not sure whether it was a dream or a reality. The gunmen stormed the classroom where we were holding our morning prayers and literally sprayed bullets around with the intention of eliminating all of us,” Rachael Gikonyo, who was left paralyzed by the attack, told International Christian Concern (ICC).
This was another attack in which the attackers separated Christians from Muslims before slaughtering them. The shooting spree began at the gate where two guards were killed on the spot. It then quickly moved to the classroom where Christian students were having their devotions, and finally to the dormitories, otherwise known as hostels in Kenya. Other students were killed outside while running for safety.
“I was among the students that were interrogated at Mt. Elgon hostel. [We were interrogated so that they could] separate us from Muslim students. Then they forced us to lie in a line outside the hostel and began shooting at us,” narrated Irene Ngwendo, now a student at Moi University. “That was the climax of the attack because more than 100 students were killed outside the hostel. I was shot in both legs and a bullet missed my head by a whisker. The Lord spared my life. With all the pain, and lying between dead bodies, I did not move even an inch to avoid being noticed and call for another bullet in the head,” Irene continued as she tearfully remembered the fateful day.
Many families are still seeking answers even after the killing of Mohamed Kuno Dulyadeen, the mastermind of the Garissa University massacre, by Somali and US Special Forces outside Kismayu in June 2016.
Mr. Benson Mutuku told ICC that the memories of the attack have refused to fade away. “It is three years now, but memories of losing my son to terrorism are as fresh as the time when I received the sad news of the attack. But God has been our helper and pillar to our family.”
Survivors of the attack have become a source of encouragement to many people who have lost their loved ones to terrorism. Annastaciah Mikwa, one of the survivors, remembers the attack with sadness and pain. Although she is now healing from gunshot wounds and walking without crutches, she walks with pain in her abdomen and legs. She said, “I am tired of taking painkillers every day and the numerous doctors’ checkups I am required to attend frequently. I have another surgery in May to straighten my femur and patella. But I am thankful to God that I am alive today as a testimony of how God spares people from peril and I want to be an inspiration to others.”
Kenyans will long remember the Garissa University attack amidst the menace of terrorism, with the government putting more security measures in place to protect citizens. The dean of students at Garissa University is optimistic that such a heinous act will not happen again. He said, “We lost many young and talented men and women who were pursuing their dreams at the university and that causes us pain even now. We reopened in 2016 and the enrollment is picking up but at a very slow pace. The government opened a police station inside the compound and supplied us with excellent surveillance equipment. This third year of commemorating our dear children, we ask for prayers and support.”
For interviews with Nathan Johnson, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org