Citizens group holds a vigil in Nairobi park to remember 148 students killed on campus
Kenyan university students marched in the capital on Tuesday to demand more security from the government after gunmen killed 148 people at a campus in the eastern town of Garissa last week.
A citizens group held a vigil in Nairobi’s main park later in the evening, grieving for those killed in the attack claimed by al-Shabaab Islamists based in neighbouringSomalia.
Last Thursday, gunmen from the al Qaeda-aligned group stormed Garissa UniversityCollege, some 200 km from the Somali border.
Hundreds of students from different universities walked through Nairobi’s streets, singing and shouting on Tuesday. Some headed to the president’s office to present a petition.
“Enough is enough. The government must tackle the issue of insecurity seriously,” said John Derrick, a student at the Technical University of Kenya.
Government officials were not immediately available to comment.
The local Citizen Television reported that the government had frozen 86 bank accounts and 13 foreign exchange bureaus and hawalahs, informal money transfer shops, to cut off funding for radicals linked to al-Shabaab.
During the vigil in Uhuru Park, hundreds of people lit candles and placed roses in a corner where dozens of white crosses were planted and adorned with Kenyan flags.
A white board with pictures of the victims stood next to the crosses with a solitary yellow rose at the top.
Njoki Kamau, a mother of four with a girl in college and a boy in high school, said the attack in Garissa had left her feeling even more vulnerable.
“This thing has hit us really hard,” said the school administrator, before laying a rose among the crosses.
“As a Kenyan, I don’t feel safe anymore,” she said, adding she had put the safety of her school-going children in God’s hands.
Six suspects were taken to court on Tuesday in connection with the attack, the national prosecutor’s office said.
Prosecutors said the chief magistrate granted them 30 days to complete investigations while holding them in police custody.
Al Shabaab has killed more than 400 people on Kenyan soil in the last two years, including 67 during a siege at Nairobi’s Westgate mall in 2013, piling political pressure on President Uhuru Kenyatta that intensified with last week’s killings.
Kenya has struggled to stop militants and weapons cross its 700km border with Somalia, and the violence has damaged the economy by scaring away tourists and investors. On Monday, the Kenyan air force launched air strikes against al-Shabaab targets in Somalia.