Tom Odula of AP via Huff Post Black Voices
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A university where Islamic extremists killed 148 people nine months ago reopened on Monday, an event welcomed by many Kenyans as a victory against the jihadis.
“Just by opening the university we have won the war against al-Shabab,” said Khadija Mohamed, who was a counselor at the school when it was attacked last April, and who was among the returning staff and faculty. About 60 students are expected when some classes resume next week and the bulk of them, some 600, in September.
Even though there was high security, returning to the college in Garissa, a town in eastern Kenya, was difficult for Mohamed who remembers the carnage and the victims.
“Coming back to this college gives me a flashback of the killings,” she told The Associated Press. “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.
Since then the bullet-scarred walls of the university have been repaired. A dorm where many students were mercilessly shot has been renamed after a river.
Kenyans and media outlets lauded the reopening on Twitter, with one radio station proclaiming: “The pen is mightier than the gun.”
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AP writer Yassin Juma in Garissa, Kenya contributed to this story.