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Kenyans dedicate Easter to mourn Garissa attack victims

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A Kenyan Christian child in prayer as he joined a morning service at Holy Family Basilica, Nairobi, Kenya, yesterday during Easter Sunday when Christians celebrate the resurrection of their Lord, Jesus Christ, according to Scripture after his crucifixion on the cross. Special prayers were held yesterday for the victims of the recent Garissa University Attack, when Al-Shabaab gunmen rampaged through the university in northeastern Kenya on Thursday, killing scores of people. (AP Photo/Sayyid Azim)

A Kenyan Christian child in prayer as he joined a morning service at Holy Family Basilica, Nairobi, Kenya, yesterday during Easter Sunday when Christians celebrate the resurrection of their Lord, Jesus Christ, according to Scripture after his crucifixion on the cross. Special prayers were held yesterday for the victims of the recent Garissa University Attack, when Al-Shabaab gunmen rampaged through the university in northeastern Kenya on Thursday, killing scores of people. (AP Photo/Sayyid Azim)

KENYANS have begun three days of national mourning and dedicated Easter Sunday prayer services to the 148 victims of the recent university massacre by al-Shabaab fighters.

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 per cent of the population is Christian, with flags flying at half-mast.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has declared three days of national mourning after the attack in the northeastern town of Garissa, near the border with Somalia.

In the capital city of Nairobi, one candle was lit in memory of each victim of the attack on Garissa University College in a vigil on Saturday.

After besieging the university on Thursday, al-Shabaab gunmen lined up non-Muslim students before executing them in the armed group’s bloodiest attack to date.

The attack claimed the lives of 142 students, three police officers and three soldiers.

Meanwhile, Kenya’s Interior Ministry has identified one of the al-Shabaab gunmen who massacred students at a northeastern university as the son of a Kenyan government official.

Mwenda Njoka, an Interior Ministry Spokesman, said Abdirahim Abdullahi was among four gunmen who attacked the Garissa University College campus on Thursday, killing 148 people.

“The father had reported to security agents that his son had disappeared from home … and was helping the police try to trace his son by the time the Garissa terror attack happened,” Njoka told the Reuters news agency in a text message.

The Kenya Today website identified Abdullahi as the son of Abdullahi Daqara, the Chief of Bulla Jamhuri in Mandera county. It described Abdullahi as a former gifted law graduate who had studied at the University of Nairobi.

Kenyatta pledged that the attackers would face justice for the “mindless slaughter” and vowed to retaliate in the “severest way” to the killings.

Five men have been arrested in connection with the attack.

Al Jazeera’s Catherine Wambua-Soi, reporting from Garissa, said that the president’s statement was hard-worded and tough.
“He said that many of the funders, organisers and recruiters for al-Shabaab are in Kenya and are Kenyans,” she said.

The massacre was Kenya’s deadliest attack since the 1998 bombing of the United States Embassy in Nairobi.


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