A day Kenya will never forget: Garissa university massacre revisited

Rashid Charles Mberesero, Hassan Edin and Mohamed Abdi before Milimani court. They are accused of engaging in terror-related activities at Garrisa University. (George Njunge, Standard)

On Wednesday, the Nairobi Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi found Rashid Mberesero, Hassan Edin Hassan and Muhamed Abdi Abukar guilty of the 2015 massacre of Garissa University students.

He said the trio was in communication with the attackers hence they have a case to answer,

Suspect Sahal Diriy Hussein was acquitted of all charges because the prosecution could not provide evidence linking him to the attack.

The three will be sentenced on July 3 at Milimani court.

It all began on April 2, 2015 when terrorists stormed the Garissa University College in Garissa killing 148 people –nearly all of them students– and injuring 79 others.

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack saying it was at war with Kenya.

The attack was pronounced as the worst on Kenyan soil since the 1998 US embassy bombing in Nairobi which killed 213 and wounded thousands.

The Somali militant group said it was taking revenge on Kenya for sending troops in Somalia. The Kenya Defence Forces went to Somalia in 2011 to pursue Al-Shabaab following a spate of kidnappings in Kenya.

An image of Garissa University on April 2015 showing a bullet-riddled wall and shattered glasses.

The four gunmen stormed the university at 5.30am and started to shoot randomly.

The students were getting ready for their morning prayers when the shooting began.

The terrorists first killed two security guards at the gate before entering the university. They moved through the administrative block, classrooms and dormitories as they shot at the students.

Some of the survivors recalled how gunshots rent the air and how the smell of blood filled their rooms as they hid in closets during the 5.30am attack.

“We ran into the room and hid in a wardrobe. We were there from around 5.30am to 7pm when we were rescued by a KDF soldier. All that time, it was hell. We could hear our colleagues being shot and were lucky nobody came to open the wardrobe,” one of the students told a local newspaper.

Others could hear the gunmen ordering those who had taken refuge under beds to come out before shooting them indiscriminately.

Some students survived the onslaught after they hid in the latrines. The terrorists urged those in hiding to come out promising they would be spared, but that didn’t happen.

According to survivors, they first killed men first before training their guns on the female students.

Brave students tried to wrestle one of the terrorists but they were overpowered and shot dead.

The attack left many students perennially living in the fear of a second similar attack.


The Garissa University College students were transferred to Moi University, after the tragedy. Consequently, a dawn-to-dusk curfew was declared in the Northern part of Kenya’ which borders Somalia.

The government also placed a bounty on Mohamed Mohamud, alias Dulyadin alias Gamadhere who was accused of masterminding the Garissa university attack.

 At first, the State placed a Sh5 million bounty but revised it to Sh20 million.

“The bounty on him has been revised to Sh20 million because he is believed to be the mastermind of this attack,” a security source revealed. He was later killed in southwestern Somalia in 2016 during a raid.

Kenyan police was blamed for a slow response due to the fact that there is an army which has a presence near the college.  

Appearing before National Assembly Security Committee On April 30, 2015, former Interior Cabinet Secretary, the late Joseph Nkaissery, said that there was lack of coordination by security agencies responding to the attack.

He also admitted that intelligence warning of an impending attack at the Garissa University College was ignored by security officers in the area.

“There was intelligence that this place was going to be attacked so the regional security committee and the county security committee really should have beefed up security in the university but they did not,” said Nkaissery.

All the four gunmen who were involved in the gruesome attack were killed by security forces but those who conspired with the terrorists were arrested and charged in court.